For Tite and Brazil, this match was the biggest indicator of their progress through the next stage of the tournament. If Brazil had lost the match, their chances of qualifying would go down the same road as their South American counter-parts Argentina.
Luckily that was not the case for the Thiago Silva led Brazilian side. Brazil started to gain momentum towards the back-end of the game when their former skipper Neymar won the penalty after a soft touch from the Costa Rican defender. However, with VAR in place, the foul was called against Neymar and the free-kick was awarded to Costa Rica.
For Brazil, that moment in the match was when things started looking ugly and getting out of their hands. However, post the penalty call, Brazilians started pushing men forward to gain the slightest of advantage in the game. The breakthrough was yet again provided by the Barcelona midfielder Philippe Coutinho.
Coutinho’s poke through the Costa Rican heart:
Coutinho has grown in confidence since his big move to Barcelona in January after spending the last few years at Anfield. Throughout the game, the pace was clear that it was going to be a sluggish encounter given Costa Rica’s stringy defence.
Neymar was a subject of many fouls this time around too, however, compared to the last game he was fouled 6 times less through the entirety of the game. Giancarlo Gonzalez’s touch on Neymar was the most controversial moment of the game, which in all fairness should have been a simple call for the referee.
Late in the game and early in the stoppage time, Gabriel Jesus managed to push the ball towards an on-rushing Coutinho, who poked the ball through the legs of the Real Madrid stopper Keylor Navas to give the South Americans a 1-0 lead over Costa Rica.
However, deep in the extra time, Neymar made it 2-0 when a brilliant drive from Douglas Costa found Neymar wanting at the edge of the box to poke the ball into empty nets, much to the sigh of relief for the Brazilians.
Tite, the Brazil coach, showed his ruthless side by replacing Willian with Roberto Firmino at half-time and proved that his tactical change made a huge difference to the game.