SAINT PETERSBURG, Russia, June 22 – Brazil left it very late, but posted their first win of the World Cup thanks to Philippe Coutinho and Neymar to go top of Group E.
Work still needs to be done for the five-time world champions to make the last 16, but a point in their final game against Serbia will do after the Serbs lost 2-1 to Switzerland.
In group D Ahmed Musa struck twice to hand Nigeria a 2-0 win over Iceland and keep Argentina’s chances of qualifying alive before the two sides meet in Saint Petersburg next week.
Here, AFP Sports looks at three things we learned today at the World Cup.
Neymar off the mark
Neymar broke down in tears at full-time, claiming to be so overjoyed having battled back to fitness just in time from a broken bone in his right foot to make the tournament.
His emotional reaction added even more drama to an incredible finale as Coutinho put Brazil ahead in the 91st minute before the world’s most expensive player added a second at the death.
With the exception of Argentina’s Lionel Messi, the most feared strikers in Russia – Cristiano Ronaldo, Harry Kane, Diego Costa and Romelu Lukaku – have made strong starts. Now Neymar too is up and running.
Argentina still alive
Nigeria’s win over Iceland means second spot in Group D is very much up for grabs.
Argentina play Nigeria and Iceland face already qualified Croatia in the final round on Tuesday, with Nigeria holding a two-point advantage in second place. Despite collecting just a point so far, Argentina will go through with a win as long as Iceland fail to beat Croatia, or Jorge Sampaoli’s men can outscore Iceland’s margin of victory.
The two-time winners were shambolic in losing 3-0 to Croatia on Thursday, but with one last chance to salvage Messi’s last World Cup of his prime years, can they find some form when it matters most?
Swiss payback for Serbia
Switzerland’s come from behind win over Serbia wasn’t just celebrated wildly for its significance in taking the Swiss to the brink of the knockout stages, particularly for their two goalscorers.
Like thousands of others during the war between Kosovo ethnic Albanian pro-independence guerrilla and Serbian forces in the 1990s, the families of Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri took refuge in Switzerland.
Xhaka’s father was even held for three-and-a-half years as a political prisoner before the family emigrated.
Both players celebrated wildly after scoring in Kaliningrad by mimicking the double eagle sign of the Albanian flag with their hands.