- Lazaro scored Brazil’s 89th-minute winner against France
- Had only seen 30 minutes of action before semi-finals
- Player sensed he could be his side’s matchwinner
Lazaro had a feeling things would go his and Brazil’s way at the Estadio Bezerrao in Brasilia (Gama) on Thursday night. With the hosts trailing France 2-0 at half-time in their FIFA U-17 World Cup Brazil 2019™ semi-final, the substitute calmed his team-mates down in the dressing room and told them not to give up hope. He also had a premonition he would have a part to play in the game’s outcome.
“Guilherme [Brazil coach Guilherme Dalla Dea] spoke to me at the interval and told me to relax because I’d be coming on,” Lazaro told FIFA.com after his side had stunned the French with a 3-2 comeback win. “That was when I got it into my head that I’d win the game. I was so confident I’d get the goal.”
He added: “I spoke to everyone at half-time and told them we just needed to stay calm and that we could come back. And that’s what happened: we kept our calm.”
The Flamengo forward came on in the 71st minute, with Kaio Jorge having already pulled a goal back to make it 2-1 and Gabriel Veron scoring the equaliser shortly after Lazaro’s arrival. The moment the sub had been waiting for came with a minute of normal time remaining.
Latching on to a long ball from goalkeeper Matheus Donelli, Lazaro scampered into the box, cut inside a French defender and thumped a low drive just inside Melvin Zinga’s right-hand post. His premonition had become reality.
Absent from the Brazil squad when it was first announced, Lazaro was only added to the list when Juan picked up an injury.
“I was pretty calm on the day the announcement was made,” explained Brazil’s hero of the hour. “When Juan got injured I sent him a message telling him to stay calm. He’s a great kid. When I heard the news that I was in the squad, I was relaxed because I knew I wouldn’t be playing.”
The No20 has had to bide his time. Prior to Thursday’s semi-final, he had spent only 30 minutes on the pitch, coming on as a sub against Angola in Brazil’s final group match.
Now, with his newly found status of talisman, Lazaro can dream of a place in the starting line-up for Sunday’s final against Mexico at the Estadio Bezerrao. There is no question of him getting carried away, however.
“I’ll leave that to Guilherme because he knows how to pick a team,” said the frontman, speaking with the same blend of coolness and self-confidence that gave the hosts victory over France. “I try not to think about things like that. I just play my football. Everyone who knows me knows that I’m a very laid-back kid.”