DOHA ( Associated Press) — Just after Brazil’s victory over South Korea in the last 16 of the World Cup, Neymar came off his bench, looked at the 974 Stadium grandstand and raised his right thumb with a smile.
Everything is looking good for the Brazilian star after being pulled out on a tear with a right ankle injury in his debut match.
Neymar made a successful comeback by scoring a penalty as the Selecao beat South Korea 4-1 on Monday to reach the quarter-finals.
The score put him one shout away from tying the great Pelé as Brazil’s all-time top scorer.
Pelé scored 77 times with Canrinha, one less than Neymar, who injured his ankle in the opening game against Serbia and missed the subsequent games against Switzerland and Cameroon.
Many feared the Paris Saint-Germain striker could be ruled out of the tournament, including myself.
Neymar said, “Thank God they have helped me, the physiotherapists, my colleagues and all the people to support me, to be able to train and to be able to do whatever I needed to do to get back on the pitch.” Thank you to everyone who has.” I am happy to be back on the field and play well. I was afraid of not playing in the World Cup again.”
After returning to training last Saturday and practicing normally the day before, coach Tite sent him into the starting lineup against South Korea. Neymar didn’t disappoint anyone.
Although his goal came from 11 steps after a foul on Richardson, the 30-year-old ran normally. He accelerated, braked, changed pace and developed a game of play on the left wing in the five-time world champion’s 4-1-2-3 scheme.
Neymar said, “It is difficult to be man of the match because everyone played well.” “I’m happy with the performance, that’s what we wanted to advance to the next round and we achieved that, but we still have more steps to take.”
Despite a 4–0 lead built by Brazil in the first half, the Brazilian coach kept him on the field of Stadium 974 until 10 minutes from the end when he was substituted to a loud ovation from Torsadores of Brazil.
After displaying a banner in the middle of the field in which he remembered Pelé, Neymar walked with his teammates towards a goal where a large number of fans had gathered.
Neymar jumped with joy along with the other teammates and then jumped on Dani Alves’ back to continue the celebration before heading to the locker room.
Neymar’s appearance at the World Cup in Qatar is seen as crucial to the Brazilians’ aspirations of reaching their sixth World Championship. After winning Korea–Japan 2002, the closest Brazil came to the championship was when they reached the semi-finals in 2014 as hosts. Neymar suffered a back injury in the quarter-finals of that competition and was unable to perform in the 7–1 thrashing that they faced against Germany in the following duel.
Brazil will look to take another step closer to the goal when they face Croatia. Neymar has to be there to cooperate.