Neymar stars as Brazil beat Colombia in WC qualifier

Neymar stars as Brazil beat Colombia in WC qualifier

Manaus (Brazil), Sep 7 (IANS) Star striker Neymar scored one goal and set up another as Brazil defeated Colombia 2-1 in their 2018 World Cup qualifier here.

This victory was Brazil’s second in as many matches under new manager Tite, who replaced Dunga after the Selecao’s group-stage elimination from the Copa America in June, reports Xinhua news agency.

The five-time World Cup winners now have 15 points from eight matches, just one point behind leaders Uruguay.

At the start, central defender Joao Miranda gave the hosts lead in the second minute before Colombia equalized through a Marquinhos own goal on Tuesday.

Colombia were put on the back foot immediately in stifling conditions at Arena Amazonia here. The opening goal came via a pinpoint Neymar corner that Miranda met with a powerful header at the near post.

They were made to look all at sea in the 36th minute when Marquinhos clumsily nodded a curling James Rodriguez free-kick into his own net.

Just like he did against Ecuador in Quito on Thursday, Philippe Coutinho made an immediate impact after being introduced as a second-half replacement for Willian.

The Liverpool No. 10 orchestrated Brazil’s winner by starting a move that also included Gabriel Jesus and then releasing Neymar with a deft through ball from the top of the box.

The Barcelona star needed only one touch before rifling an unstoppable shot past goalkeeper David Ospina.

Coutinho should have scored a goal of his own when he found himself in space minutes later, only to take a moment too long and allow his shot to be partially blocked.

In other matches, Paris Saint-Germain striker Edinson Cavani scored twice as Uruguay routed Paraguay 4-0. Luis Suarez and Cristian Rodriguez were also on target for the Celeste.

Lucas Pratto and Nicolas Otamendi netted second-half goals as Argentina – who were playing without injured captain Lionel Messi – recovered from two goals down to draw with Venezuela in Merida. Josef Martinez and Juanpi scored for the hosts.

In Santiago, Copa America champions Chile were held by a surprise goalless draw by Bolivia.

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