Philippe Coutinho again inspires Brazil in win over Serbia

Brazil has recovered from its opening tie against Switzerland to beat Costa Rica and Serbia and claim first place in Group E at the World Cup.

Philippe Coutinho has led Brazil with goals against Switzerland and Costa Rica and an assist on Paulinho's opening goal in the 2-0 win over Serbia.

What's next ...
July 2 Brazil vs. Mexico, in Samara (10 am ET)
July 3 Sweden vs. Switzerland vs. Sweden, in St. Petersburg (10 am ET)

Sold from Liverpool to Barcelona with some of the funds Barca pocketed when his good friend, Neymar, moved to Paris St. Germain on a world record transfer fee, Coutinho was thought to be in danger of losing his starting job on the eve of the World Cup.

But Coach Tite decided to stick with him as a playmaker in midfield over employing Fernandinho as a third defensive midfielder.

That move has been the difference for Brazil with Neymar still looking to find his form after a long injury layoff -- his only goal came late in stoppage time against Costa Rica -- and young Gabriel Jesus a disappointment at center forward.

"When all the defenders focus on ­Neymar," former Brazil star Roberto Carlos wrote about Coutinho in his World Cup column, "he pops up and decides matches. I love watching that guy play. He's ­brilliant on the ball, obviously, but he's clever off it, too, taking up good positions."

Group E ...
Sunday, June 17
Serbia 1 Costa Rica 0.
(Kolarov 56. Att.: 41,432.)
Brazil 1 Switzerland 1.
(Coutinho 20; Zuber 50. Att.: 43,119.)
Friday, June 22
2 Costa Rica 0.
(Coutinho 90+1, Neymar 90+7. Att.: 64,468.)
Switzerland 2 Serbia 1.
(Xhaka 52, Shaqiri 90; Mitrovic 5. Att.: 33,167.)
Wednesday, June 27
2 Serbia 0.
(Paulinho 36, Thiago Silva 68. Att.: 44,190.)
Switzerland 2 Costa Rica 2.
(Dzemaili 31, Drmic 88; Waston 56, own goal. Att.: 43,319.)

1. Brazil, 7. points (5-1)
2. Switzerland, 5 points (5-4)
3. Serbia, 3 points (2-4)
4. Costa Rica, 1 point (2-5)
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