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Three Things We Learned On World Cup Day Nine

SAINT PETERSBURG, RUSSIA - JUNE 22: Neymar Jr of Brazil celebrates scoring the second goal of his team with Philippe Coutinho (left) during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group E match between Brazil and Costa Rica at Saint Petersburg Stadium on June 22, 2018 in Saint Petersburg, Russia. (Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)

Brazil left it very late, but posted their first win of the World Cup thanks to Philippe Coutinho and Neymar to go top of Group E.

Work still needs to be done for the five-time world champions to make the last 16, but a point in their final game against Serbia will do after the Serbs lost 2-1 to Switzerland.

In group D Ahmed Musa struck twice to hand Nigeria a 2-0 win over Iceland and keep Argentina’s chances of qualifying alive before the two sides meet in Saint Petersburg next week.

Here, we look at three things we learned today at the World Cup.

Neymar off the mark

Neymar broke down in tears at full-time, claiming to be so overjoyed having battled back to fitness just in time from a broken bone in his right foot to make the tournament.

His emotional reaction added even more drama to an incredible finale as Coutinho put Brazil ahead in the 91st minute before the world’s most expensive player added a second at the death.

With the exception of Argentina’s Lionel Messi, the most feared strikers in Russia – Cristiano Ronaldo, Harry Kane, Diego Costa and Romelu Lukaku – have made strong starts. Now Neymar too is up and running.

SAINT PETERSBURG, RUSSIA - JUNE 22: Neymar of Brazil is seen during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group E match between Brazil and Costa Rica at Saint Petersburg Stadium on June 22, 2018 in Saint Petersburg, Russia. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)


Argentina still alive

Nigeria’s win over Iceland means second spot in Group D is very much up for grabs.

Argentina play Nigeria and Iceland face already qualified Croatia in the final round on Tuesday, with Nigeria holding a two-point advantage in second place. Despite collecting just a point so far, Argentina will go through with a win as long as Iceland fail to beat Croatia, or Jorge Sampaoli’s men can outscore Iceland’s margin of victory.

The two-time winners were shambolic in losing 3-0 to Croatia on Thursday, but with one last chance to salvage Messi’s last World Cup of his prime years, can they find some form when it matters most?

Nigeria's forward Ahmed Musa celebrates after scoring their second goal during the Russia 2018 World Cup Group D football match between Nigeria and Iceland at the Volgograd Arena in Volgograd on June 22, 2018. (Photo by Mark RALSTON / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - NO MOBILE PUSH ALERTS/DOWNLOADS        (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)


Swiss payback for Serbia

Switzerland’s come from behind win over Serbia wasn’t just celebrated wildly for its significance in taking the Swiss to the brink of the knockout stages, particularly for their two goalscorers.

Like thousands of others during the war between Kosovo ethnic Albanian pro-independence guerrilla and Serbian forces in the 1990s, the families of Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri took refuge in Switzerland.

Xhaka’s father was even held for three-and-a-half years as a political prisoner before the family emigrated.

Both players celebrated wildly after scoring in Kaliningrad by mimicking the double eagle sign of the Albanian flag with their hands.

KALININGRAD, RUSSIA - JUNE 22, 2018: Switzerland's Denis Zakaria (C) and Xherdan Shaqiri (R) celebrate a goal in a First Stage Group E football match between Serbia and Switzerland at Kaliningrad Stadium (Baltika Arena) at FIFA World Cup Russia 2018; Switzerland won 2-1. Sergei Fadeichev/TASS (Photo by Sergei FadeichevTASS via Getty Images)


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Author: The PA Team

This article was written by a member of The PA Team.