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Neymar, Countinho’s late strikes save Brazil from Costa Rica

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Brazil needed two injury-time goals to defeat a dogged Costa Rica on Friday as Philippe Coutinho and Neymar scored to put the five-time World Cup winners back on track for the last 16.

The Brazilians looked to be heading for a second frustrating draw in a row before Barcelona forward Coutinho poked the ball through Costa Rica goalkeeper Keylor Navas’ legs in the 91st minute in St Petersburg.

Neymar, who had a penalty award ruled out by referee Bjorn Kuipers after he consulted the Video Assistant Referee, volleyed in the second goal seven minutes into injury time.

It was the latest strike in World Cup history. The world’s most expensive player slumped to his knees in tears at the end and later posted a message on Twitter and Instagram hitting back at criticism of his emotional reaction.

“Not everyone knows what I went through to get here. Even parrots can talk, but walking the walk… not everyone does it. I cried out of happiness, overcoming, grit and desire to win,” Neymar said.

It was only Neymar’s fourth competitive match since breaking a bone playing for Paris Saint-Germain in February. – Argentina group finely poised – In stark contrast to Brazil’s relief, Argentina and the under-performing Lionel Messi were in disarray following their shambolic 3-0 defeat to Croatia on Thursday.

The Argentina management was forced to deny stories that the players wanted coach Jorge Sampaoli sacked before their final group game against Nigeria — they said the claims were “absolutely false”.

Adding to the acrimony, several Spanish media outlets reported on an audio recording of former Argentina international Diego Simeone in which he lambasts the “anarchy” in the team and says he would choose Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo over Messi, if he had the choice.

“Messi is very good, but it is clear that he is very good because he is surrounded by extraordinary players (at Barcelona),”

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