Richarlison has left football fans in a frenzy after a moment of "outrageous" audacity in Brazil's World Cup round of 16 victory over South Korea in Qatar. The Brazilians cemented their status as favourites to win the tournament after booking their spot in the quarter-finals with a resounding 4-1 victory over the Koreans.
The five-time World Cup champions tore Korea to shreds in the opening half, with goals from Vinicius Jr., Neymar, Richarlison and Lucas Pacqueta putting the South Americans 4-0 up at halftime. To their credit, Korea never stopped trying and had a thunderous consolation goal from Paik Seung-ho to show for their troubles in the second half as Brazil took their foot off the pedal.
'I DIDN'T LIKE IT': Portugal coach rips Ronaldo over ugly World Cup scenes
'DISRESPECTFUL': Brazil act under fire during World Cup bloodbath
As impressive as Brazil's performance was, it was the team's third goal from Richarlison that had the football world talking. The Brazil forward had already opened his account in Qatar with an extraordinary bicycle kick goal against Serbia that many viewers declared would be the goal of the World Cup at the time.
However, the Tottenham forward may have gone one better against Korea, after starting and finishing one of the most incredible team sequences seen so far in the tournament. Richarlison seemed to be toying with his Asian opponents after juggling the ball on his head a number of times, before beating his defender.
The 25-year-old then played the ball forward, dissecting the Korean defence by combining with two teammates in an exquisite display of one and two-touch passing, before controlling and side-footing past the hapless Korean goalkeeper Kim Seung-gyu.
The audacious piece of skill by Richarlison and the surgical precision of Brazil's passing - not to mention the control and finish - sent the football world into meltdown. Fans flooded social media in stunned reaction, with many insisting Richarlison had outdone himself by scoring the 'goal of the World Cup'.
Richarlison took off to the dugout to celebrate the strike by dancing with teammates, with coach Tite even getting in on the act. The Brazilians brought a beach soccer swagger to the iconic Stadium 974 with a display that simply overwhelmed the Koreans, and likely struck fear into potential opponents, even if their goal celebrations did come under fire from some viewers.
"We're dreaming of the title, of course," Brazilian talisman Neymar - who overcame an ankle sprain to start the game - said after the match. "Today was the fourth game, there are three left. We're very focused on getting that title."
After Japan's penalty shootout loss to Croatia in the day's earlier round of 16 game, plus Australia's loss to Argentina, South Korea's defeat means that all three Asian Confederation teams were eliminated in the first knockout round. It also meant the end of the road for Korea's Portuguese coach Paulo Bento.
"I've just announced it to the players and president, it was a decision set in stone in September and I thanked them for everything they've done," he said at the post-match news conference.
"I believe our participation at the World Cup has ended in a very fair manner. I'm pleased and proud to have been their manager for more than four years. Now I'm going to rest and see what happens next."
Brazil issue warning to rivals in scary display
Having failed to score in the first half of any match so far this tournament, five-times champions Brazil corrected that with a ruthless four-goal opening half that started with Vinicius Junior's seventh minute opener from Raphina's superb build-up. The Barcelona winger sliced through the red wall and when his cross eluded the closely-marked Neymar, Vinicius Junior was at the far post to gently lift the ball over scrambling defenders and the goalkeeper.
Five minutes later the Brazilians doubled their lead when Richarlison was hauled down in the penalty box and the referee instantly pointed to the spot. Neymar stepped up to wrong-foot goalkeeper Kim Seung-gyu for his 76th Brazil goal - one shy of the legendary Pele's international haul.
By the half-hour mark it was 3-0, thanks to Richarlison's moment of magic, with Paqueta firing home in the 36th minute to complete Brazil's scoring for the first half, and the match.
That the South Americans went in only 4-0 up was as much to do with their profligacy as anything the Koreans could muster in terms of defence. With their elaborate goal celebrations, the Brazilians had done more dancing than defending in the opening 45 minutes and the second half followed a similar pattern, with goalkeeper Kim single-handedly denying Brazil another hatful of goals.
A more prosaic side would have added several goals early in the second half, but seemingly you cannot turn Brazil on and off, and chances went begging due to overly elaborate flicks or backheels when the simple solution would have worked best.
It came back to bite them when Korean substitute Paik Seung-ho thundered home a long distance screamer, aided by a slight deflection, to reward the team in red for their endless industry with a consolation goal.
Brazil saw the game out – spurning half a dozen good chances before the end – before unfurling a banner of Pele, and dancing once more to celebrate with fans. "Let's hope we can carry on dancing all the way to the final," Vinicius Junior said. "And we are also sending a big hug to Pele. Let's hope he recovers quickly."
Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.