Saudi Arabia might have lost all three games in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, but the records would fail to reflect their determination on the pitch. They had been a tough nut to crack in this event and tested the opponents to the limits. Ivory Coast and Germany experienced it previously and today, it was time for Brazil to experience the same, even though, the Selecao were able to strike three times and advance to the next round.
🇧🇷 Richarlison to the rescue 🦸♂️
— FIFA.com (@FIFAcom) July 28, 2021
With Douglas Luiz suspended in the last match against Ivory Coast, Matheus Henrique replaced him and partnered Bruno Guimares at the center of the park. Otherwise, Andre Jardine invested faith in the same group of players that started in the group stages till now.
With eight minutes gone, Saudi Arabia posed a threat – Assisted by Salem Al Dawsari, Saud Abdul Hamid’s shot missed the target. Five minutes later, Abdul Hamid conceded a corner and then, assisted by Claudinho with a cross following a corner, Matheus Cunha produced a header from a close range and gave Brazil the lead.
O primeiro gol do homem nos #JogosOlímpicos! Parabéns, Matheus Cunha 💚💛
Foto: Lucas Figueiredo / CBF pic.twitter.com/P42EbbGETy
— CBF Futebol (@CBF_Futebol) July 28, 2021
Finally, Cunha had broken the deadlock and ended his goal drought in this event – the misses by him were pathetic to watch, and at least this goal would boost his confidence a lot. This was his thirteenth goal under Jardine.
But Brazil lost the advantage with Salman Al-Faraj producing a cross from the set-piece situation as Abdulelah Al-Amr beat Diego Carlos and Ani Alves to head and equalize.
Before the break, Antony missed two opportunities – one headed in a cross by Arana and the other after a good move by Matheus.
GOAL! Matheus Cunha
Assist Claudinho pic.twitter.com/2zASwB9pHK
— Seleção Brasil 🇧🇷 (@Brazil_TeamNews) July 28, 2021
Pressured by Ivory Coast’s second-half goal against Germany, which would take Brazil’s first place with a draw, the Brazilian team went on the attack, with Malcolm replacing Antony and more freedom for the advances of Daniel Alves.
After the break, Saudi Arabia put their five men at the back narrowly and went for the midblock.
Brazil targeted the flanks in search of a goal.
They maintained their movements behind the defensive line to unsettle the defenders and their plan to create pockets of spaces paid rich dividends.
Claudinho switched to the flanks and dished out a cross for Nino which was blocked and then Dani Alves crossed another for Cunha which failed to produce the desired result.
— 101 Great Goals (@101greatgoals) July 28, 2021
Bruno Guimares, who was, yet again, controlling the game from the midfield, set up Richarlison, but his attempt lacked the cutting edge. Then Matheus Henrique’s, set up by Claudinho, left-footed shot from the center of the box was saved in the bottom left corner.
Matheus Cunha lost an unbelievable chance after Matheus Henrique’s good arrival in the attack.
Jardine brought on Reinier Jesus to inject more attacking intent and his impact was immediately evident. He coordinated well with the forwards and his footwork started to break the resistance of the Saudi markers and defenders.
With eighteen minutes remaining, Bruno Guimares headed a pass following a set-piece situation and Richarlison headed home from a close range.
In the final minutes, Richarlison scored again, after a great move between Reinier and Malcolm.
+3pts ⚽⚽⚽⚽⚽ 🇧🇷 pic.twitter.com/n58JojIAho
— Richarlison Andrade (@richarlison97) July 28, 2021
It was beautiful to see the understanding between Malcolm and Reinier at the end of the match. In addition to the play of the third goal, the pair created another dangerous chance with tables and attacks on the right side.
Andre Jardine will have to work to correct a certain defensive weakness of the Brazilian team in aerial plays. Brazil had already conceded a goal like that in a friendly against the United Arab Emirates, before Tokyo, and conceded two of three goals over the top in three matches.