Richarlison, Brazil and, maybe, the start of something special.
LUSAIL, Qatar — Not all goals sound the same. Sometimes, the noise they generate is one of joy, giddy and delighted. Sometimes, it is more guttural, not so much a celebration as a growl of defiance. At others, it is a sough of grateful relief. And very occasionally, it is something different: not an exhalation but a drawing of the breath. Sometimes, it is the sound of wonder.
For a little more than an hour, Brazil had toiled to overcome Serbia. The last of the heavyweights to start this tournament, Brazil had entered it with a head of steam: beaten only once in three years, untouchable for 18 months, expected to sweep aside anything standing that stood in the way of its long-awaited sixth World Cup.
Here it was, though, in front of a partisan and expectant crowd, grinding its way to an uninspiring win against an obdurate, but limited, opponent. It had the lead, thanks to the sort of gnarled, forgettable goal the game had merited, but it was hardly the sort of emphatic statement that had been anticipated.
Everything changed in a single instant. Vinicíus Junior burst down the left wing. With the outside of his right boot, he fizzed a low cross toward Richarlison, the scorer of the first goal. As it traveled, the ball clipped an outstretched Serbian leg; only a little, but enough to change its trajectory.