(MENAFN- The Peninsula)
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Doha: Neymar scored on return as Brazil displayed a ruthless performance to crush South Korea 4-1 and stormed into the quarter-finals of World Cup at Stadium 974 on Monday.
The Selecao returning to full strength after Tite's second string side suffered a shock defeat to Cameroon in their last group match on Friday took the game away from South Korea in the first half by smashing four goals with South Korea pulling one back in the second half.
The five-time winners will face Croatia - who defeated Japan in the last-16 on penalties - in the quarter-finals on Friday.
Motivated by a message from legend Pele and boosted with the return of Neymar and Danilo from injuries, Brazil were unstoppable as Paulo Bento's Taegeuk Warriors looked helpless against the pre-tournament favourites.
“In 1958, I walked the streets thinking about fulfilling the promise I made to my father,” hospitalised Pele, who is battling cancer wrote on Twitter before the match.
“I know that today many have made similar promises and are also going in search of their first World Cup. I'll be watching the game from hospital and I'll be rooting for each one of you. Good luck!”
Pele must be jubilant how Brazil started with Vinicius Junior opening the scoring early curling the ball past five South Koreans after a ball from Raphinha down the right wing in the seventh minute.
It took the Selecao only six more minutes to score their second goal after Richarlison - kicked by a South Korean defender – won a spot kick. Neymar took the shot and he made it look easy beating South Korean goalkeeper Kim Seung-gyu slotting in the bottom corner with a slow hit.
The 30-year-old with his 76th goal for Brazil is now just one goal away to equal great Pele's record.
Meanwhile, it was Richarlison's goal after 29 minutes that Brazil players celebrated the most as they mobbed their coach in the technical area with all dancing to the same beat in front of euphoric fans, knowing their quarter-final berth is sealed.
The Tottenham forward initiated the move and got the ball back from Thiago Silva to score, leaving the South Korean fans dejected.
Lucas Paquetá then extended the lead seven minutes later after receiving a loop from Vinicius inside the box.
Raphinha had a chance to score one more goal but he hit right in front of goalkeeper from a close range just before the half-time.
South Korea created their only close chance in the first half after 17 minutes when Hwang Hee-chan struck from 25 yards but Alisson made an acrobatic save to palm the ball away. Captain Son Heung-min tried to break in early in the match but stopped by a solid Brazilian defense.
South Korea, however, managed to score 14 minutes before time with substitute Paik Seung-ho hitting from a distance after a free kick was cleared.