Football

Brazil issue warning ahead of World Cup

Neymar scores one penalty and misses another in easy win over Japan

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JAPAN BRAZIL
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(Tomoaki Makino 63) (Neymar 10-pen, Marcelo 17, Gabriel Jesus 36)

Neymar scored a penalty and missed another as Brazil signalled their intent ahead of next year's World Cup by outclassing Japan 3-1 in last night's friendly in Lille, France.

This was Brazil's 13th win in 16 games since Tite took charge as coach in June last year.

Neymar opened accounts through a 10th-minute spot-kick, following intervention from the video assistant referee (VAR), although the Paris Saint-Germain superstar saw a second penalty, awarded without the VAR, saved shortly after by Eiji Kawashima.

Marcelo rifled in a magnificent second as Brazil doubled their lead on 17 minutes, with Manchester City's Gabriel Jesus rounding off a clinical counter-attack before half-time to make it 3-0.

Tomoaki Makino nodded in a consolation from a corner on 62 minutes, but Japan remain winless against Brazil after losing for the 10th time in 12 meetings.

Neymar was joined by PSG teammate Thiago Silva in the Brazil line-up as coach Tite picked a strong side despite playing in front of a sparselyfilled Stade Pierre-Mauroy in northern France.

Japan coach Vahid Halilhodzic, who served a four-year spell as Lille coach over a decade ago, called up 12 Europe-based players for the double-header with Brazil and Belgium, but their star trio of Shinji Kagawa, Shinji Okazaki and Keisuke Honda were omitted.

Japan were thrashed 4-0 by a Neymar-inspired Brazil in their last encounter in Singapore's National Stadium in 2014 and again quickly found themselves under threat from the world's most expensive player.

He slipped Giuliano through down the right after carving open space, with Japan captain Yuto Nagatomo forced to produce a vital sliding block.

Brazil were soon in front as referee Benoit Bastien belatedly awarded a penalty after the video official spotted Maya Yoshida tugging Fernandinho's jersey at a corner.

Neymar calmly converted for his 53rd international goal - eight of which have come against Japan - and the 25-year-old should have added to his tally five minutes later after Gabriel Jesus was barged over by Hotaru Yamaguchi.

But, this time Kawashima dived low to his right to deny Neymar, although Brazil surged further ahead from the resulting corner through a thunderbolt from Marcelo.

Yosuke Ideguchi's poor clearance trickled invitingly into the path of the Real Madrid left back who hammered a right-footed strike into the top corner.

Yoshida nearly atoned for his early blunder on the half-hour as he crashed a free-kick against the crossbar, but Japan were ruthlessly dissected as Brazil further flexed their muscles on 36 minutes.

Neymar triggered a swift break after a Japanese attack broke down, with Willian releasing the overlapping Danilo whose driven low cross was tapped in by Manchester City teammate Jesus at the far post.

Brazil substitute goalkeeper Cassio, who replaced Alisson for the second half, clawed away a fizzing shot from Takuma Asano, while Neymar was booked for a tangle with Marseille defender Hiroki Sakai after the incident was reviewed by the VAR.

Japan trimmed the deficit on 62 minutes when centre back Makino headed in from a corner before a raft of substitutes in the final quarter disrupted the flow of the contest.

Brazil's next game is against England at Wembley on Wednesday morning (Singapore time), while Japan will face Belgium in Brugges. - AFP

JAPAN: Eiji Kawashima, Yuto Nagatomo, Tomoaki Makino, Maya Yoshida, Hiroki Sakai, Makoto Hasebe (Takashi Inui 70), Hotaru Yamaguchi, Yosuke Ideguchi (Wataru Endo 86), Yuya Osako (Kenyu Sugimoto 80), Genki Haraguchi (Ryota Morioka 70), Yuya Kubo (Takuma Asano 46)

BRAZIL: Alisson (Cassio 46), Danilo, Thiago Silva, Jemerson, Marcelo (Alex Sandro 59), Giuliano (Renato Augusto 80), Casemiro, Fernandinho, Willian (Taison 71), Gabriel Jesus (Diego Souza 58), Neymar (Douglas Costa 71)


13

With this victory, Brazil have won 13 out of 16 games since coach Tite took over in June last year.

53

At only 25 years old, Neymar has scored 53 goals in 81 games for Brazil