●Switzerland 1-0 Cameroon
●Uruguay 0-0 South Korea
●Brazil 2-0 Serbia
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Brazil and England Premier League star Richarlison has scored an early contender for the goal of the tournament in Qatar.
The Tottenham striker latched on to a ball from Vinicius Jr and set himself up for an overhead kick to put Brazil 2-0 ahead after previously breaking Serbia’s stubborn defense with a tap.
His second goal aroused the admiration of the fans.
“It’s a wow moment, isn’t it,” said legendary commentator Martin Tyler.
PREVIOUSLY: RONALDO STOLEN BY STOLEN PARTY
Cristiano Ronaldo was stunned after a Ghanaian player stole his iconic ‘Siu’ celebration during their Group H match on Friday.
Ronaldo was visibly surprised on the Portuguese bench after Osman Bukari celebrated his 89th-minute goal in signature Ronaldo style.
“That Ghanaian player who did the siu is my new favorite player,” one fan wrote on Twitter.
Another supporter said he was “fascinated by the rowdyness of it”, while another said Bukari was “Ghana’s new president now”.
Whatever you think, it is clear that Ronaldo was not impressed.
The Portuguese legend opened the scoring in a wild second half after 65 minutes from the penalty spot.
Andre Ayew equalized for Ghana eight minutes later, but goals from Joao Felix and Rafael Leao meant Bukari’s goal was only consolation for Ghana.
07:31 AM: BLUE SAMURAI SET A NEW GOAL AFTER COOKING
Japan manager Hajime Moriyasu took a surprise shower from a field sprayer on Thursday, but it didn’t dampen his mood after his team’s stunning victory over Germany.
The Blue Samurai came from behind on Wednesday to beat the four-time world champions 2-1 in their Group E opener and now look for a spot in the last 16, with Costa Rica as their next opponents.
Moriyasu led his team during a training session on Thursday afternoon and was unexpectedly drenched when a sprinkler engulfed him as he spoke to reporters.
The manager laughed off his early shower, but warned his players not to get carried away by their historic triumph.
“All we think about is the next game ahead of us, as we always do,” said Moriyasu, emphasizing that the game against Germany was already in the past.
“On the day of a game we celebrate when we win or feel frustrated when we lose, but we always think about the things we could have done better and start preparing for the next game in a positive way.” Moriyasu said defeating Germany had given Japan “peace of mind” ahead of Sunday’s game against Costa Rica, who were beaten 7-0 by Spain in their opener.
Costa Rica needs to win to revive their chances of reaching the knockout round and Japanese defender Yuto Nagatomo said his team will wait to exploit any gaps they leave.
Nagatomo believes Japan has become a versatile party that is now “difficult for opponents to understand”.
“Tactically, we have become a team where it would not be surprising if one of us played in any position,” he said.
“I think we have become difficult for our opponents to analyze, almost like a chameleon.”
Japan had to dig deep to stay in the match against the Germans and came back from 1-0 down to win with goals from substitutes Ritsu Doan and Takuma Asano.
The result propels Japan to claim a spot in the knockout round, but it won’t be enough to fulfill their ambitions.
“It was a big result for Japanese football, but we haven’t changed history yet,” said Doan.
“Our minimum target is to get to the quarter-finals and we’ve talked about that as a team.”
7.10AM: VAN GAAL HUGS SENEGAL JOURNO AFTER PRESSER
National coach Louis van Gaal fulfilled a journalist’s wish for a hug during a heartwarming press conference moment at the World Cup.
A Senegalese journalist, reportedly Papa Mahmoud Gueye, told the legendary coach on a [ress conference: “I am a young journalist. I don’t have a question for you. I just want to tell you I am a big fan of you.”
van Gaal reportedly told the journalist: “I want to give you a big hug. Because I like that you say this and I mean it seriously. That does not happen often. “So we’ll give each other a big hug afterwards.”
And he did not disappoint, with the pair catching up and embracing at the end of the press conference.
6.45AM: AFC CHIEF DISMISSES QATAR CONCERNS
The head of the Asian Football Confederation on Thursday brushed off criticism over World Cup host Qatar’s human rights record, instead lavishing praise on the Gulf country’s organisation of the tournament.
Qatar has come under increasing scrutiny over its rights record, particularly its treatment of migrant labourers, women and the LGBTQ community, since winning the bid to host football’s top tournament.
AFC chief Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim Al-Khalifa, a member of Bahrain’s ruling family, on Thursday appeared to launch a sharp attack on Qatar’s critics in remarks to journalists, evoking the Arabic proverb “the dogs bark but the caravan moves on”.
Though he made no explicit mention of the first part of the proverb, his comment appeared to dismiss the criticism of Qatar as “barking”, whilst praising the country’s performance in hosting the event.
“The organisation is luminous, the environment is positive,” he said.
“Our (Qatari) brothers didn’t fail in delivering the facilities and stadiums and I believe it will be one of the most successful tournaments.”
Qatar has repeatedly accused its critics of “double standards” and even “racism”, pointing to their recent reforms of labour laws as signs of improvement.
The latest run-in over rights criticism came Wednesday when German players covered their mouths in a protest against FIFA’s decision to ban rainbow-themed armbands at this year’s World Cup.
6AM: LEGEND’S MESSAGE TO TOURNAMENT FAVOURITE
Football legend Pele gave Brazil a virtual pre-match pep talk Thursday as the national team prepared to make their World Cup debut, telling them: “Bring this trophy home.”
As the five-time champions prepared to take the pitch for their opening match against Serbia, the 82-year-old icon posted a series of photos of his past World Cup glories on Instagram, telling Neymar and his teammates: “Today we start writing a new story.”
“We will be more than 200 million hearts beating as one, vibrating with each achievement of our ‘Selecao,’” wrote Pele, the only player in history to win three World Cups.
“We must respect and play each match with the focus of a final. It is important to play beautifully, yes, but it is also essential to leave everything on the pitch,” he wrote.
“I send these pictures to inspire you guys… I am sending all positive energies to you. I’m sure we’ll have a happy ending. God bless you. Bring this trophy home.” Considered by many the greatest footballer of all time, Pele has had a series of health problems in recent years, but remains active on social media.
Brazil is in action from 6am (AEDT) in its tournament opener against Serbia.
5AM UPDATE: FANS HIT OUT AT QATAR ‘FUN POLICE’
Qatar officials have sparked fury after pulling the plug on pre-noon parties ahead of Wales’ crunch match with Iran.
The World Cup hosts imposed a last minute ban on early drinking, stifling Welsh plans for a boozy pre-game bash.
Around 1,200 Wales fans packed-out pre and post game parties for their USA match at the InterContinental hotel in Doha on Monday night.
And supporters expected another jamboree when they reunite for the Iran clash on Friday.
But their festivities have been cancelled with just 24 hours notice – after Qatari officials banned booze before midday.
The news will affect Australian supporters with similar plans as the Socceroos’ clash with Tunisia is scheduled for 1pm local time.
Welsh supporter Peter Humphreys, 61, said: “The fun police have struck again – but it is hardly surprising.
“If they can ban Budweiser for the tournament then what chance do a few plucky Taffs have of getting a drink before the game?
“Fortunately we’re able to make our own atmosphere but it would be nice to have had a beer to settle the nerves.”
Peter revealed he paid £79 for the pre-game party ticket which included five pints of beer and a curry – but he will now only be able to transfer it to an after-match party instead.
Organiser Leigh James of fans’ charity Gol Cymru told ticketholders: “The hotel have been in discussions with the Qatari authorities overnight and unfortunately, as it is with Qatar, a change has been imposed and we can now no longer serve alcohol before midday Friday.”
Paul Corkrey, from the Wales Football Supporters’ Association said he was “disappointed” by Qatar’s decision to make the change.
He said: “There’s one thing about it – they are consistent, they consistently change the rules.
“There’s not a lot we can do, really, just say that we’re disappointed really.
“A lot of fans are by themselves, in ones or twos, and they go to these things for company and be with their friends or to meet new people.
“It’s such a shame as the facilities, the place, the weather, the fact you can see three or four games in a day is positive. But they keep doing negative things now and then.”
12.05AM TRUTH BEHIND SWISS STAR’S NON-CELEBRATION
Breel Embolo scored against the country of his birth as Switzerland defeated Cameroon 1-0 to make a winning start to their World Cup campaign on Thursday.
Embolo struck three minutes into the second half at Al Janoub Stadium as Switzerland secured a vital three points in a group that includes tournament favourites Brazil and Serbia.
Cameroon have now lost their last eight World Cup matches going back to 2002. Roger Milla was presented with an award before kick-off as the oldest goalscorer in World Cup history, a reminder of past glories for Cameroon who have won just one game since reaching the quarter-finals 32 years ago.
Cameroon coach Rigobert Song, who played at four World Cups including with a 42-year-old Milla in 1994, opted for the in-form Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting to lead the attack in place of usual captain Vincent Aboubakar.
African teams had made an encouraging start in Qatar after all five failed to get past the group stage in 2018, but Cameroon will regret not making more of a first half they controlled.
Bryan Mbeumo fired at Yann Sommer after a superb ball through from Martin Hongla before Karl Toko Ekambi lashed over the rebound.
Sommer then got down low to save from Choupo-Moting after he pinched the ball away from Manuel Akanji, although a questionable foul was given against the Bayern Munich striker.
Silvan Widmer made a vital challenge to stop Toko Ekambi turning in a cross from Collins Fai and Sommer pushed away a weak effort by Hongla.
Akanji glanced wide at a corner as Cameroon switched off on the stroke of halftime but there was no such escape when they were again caught napping at the start the second half.
Granit Xhaka and Remo Freuler worked the ball out wide on the right to Xherdan Shaqiri whose low cross into the area was swept home by an unmarked Embolo, who chose not to celebrate against his birth country.
Choupo-Moting neatly weaved his way past a couple of defenders in the box but couldn’t beat Sommer from a tight angle.
Andre Onana kept Cameroon in the game with a brilliant stop to deny Ruben Vargas who found himself completely free in an almost carbon copy of Embolo’s goal.
Only a desperate block prevented Haris Seferovic from adding a late second. Song said the rankings meant nothing coming into the tournament, but Cameroon’s eighth World Cup appearance risks being brief with games to come against Serbia and Brazil