Not counting Brazil’s own goal within the nervy opening 15 minutes, the first quote-on-quote goal of the 2014 World Cup, provided by Brazil’s Neymar, was ugly. Sort of.
Neymar, the host nation’s mercurial young gun, picked up the ball in the middle of the pitch after a scrum broke the ball loose to him. Picking his head up, Neymar took four quick touches before cutting to his left, cocking back and… unleashing a slow, bouncy dribbler that barely beat Croatian goalkeeper Stipe Pletikosa. Watch the whole thing unfold below.
A few things:
— It’s only sort of ugly because Neymar held off at least two incoming defenders, while also sneaking his shot past an additional three. So a round of applause for the run itself, not to mention having the guts to take on the Croatian back-line–who are no slouches.
— But don’t think that goal goes in if anyone other than someone of Neymar’s talent takes it. While his form wasn’t horrendous*, he muffed the shot, using too much of his upper body and trying too hard for the power whack to really steer the thing gracefully. However, Neymar’s a f*cking poacher, so even his garbage shots are difficult to handle.
The forward would add another goal in the second half after the game’s referee gave a suspect penalty to the hosts. Brazil would win the game 3-1, and we’re assuming that Sao Paolo is the best place in the world to be right now.
* — Any young player watching the game should note Neymar’s form on that goal. Technically, he does the correct thing by using his hips to snap the ball across his body to the opposite post. In that position, carrying himself across the pitch like that, Neymar chose the best shot to beat Pletikosa.