Brazil beat United States 4-1 in friendly
Brazil inflicted the first defeat of the year on the United States as they sealed a 4-1 victory in the first game of their American tour. Neymar`s penalty was followed by strikes from Thiago Silva and Marcelo in a flowing, attacking match, and the triumph was sealed by Alexandre Pato`s late effort. Herculez Gomez netted the only goal for a host team that did not deserve such a spirited performance to end in heavy defeat.
The visiting South Americans came out as the more impressive team at the start of proceedings in Washington DC, and just over 10 minutes into the fixture they took a somewhat controversial lead. The United States players were upset at a penalty given against Oguchi Onyewu for handball after the defender had blocked Leandro Damiao`s shot. There was no doubt about the resulting kick, however, as Neymar sent Tim Howard the wrong way to notch the opener.
The Selecao settled into an easy control of the match, knocking the ball around with ease in the absence of American pressure while at the other end pressing their rivals deep into their own half. Damiao looked set to add a second when he was played clean through behind the defence by Internacional team-mate Oscar, but the forward was denied by an impressive stop from Howard to keep the deficit at one.
It was not to be long, however, before Mano Menezes` men stretched their advantage. After a series of corners Neymar`s looping cross finally found the right target; a criminally-unmarked Thiago Silva, who headed home with authority to extend the advantage for the 2014 World Cup hosts.
The goal was the cue for Brazil to dominate the last 20 minutes of the second half, playing the ball around the Washington field with little interruption. All of which meant the USA`s response was even less expected; Michael Bradley played a beautiful pass for Fabian Johnson on the left hand side of the area, and the Hoffenheim midfielder squared to Herculez Gomez to cut the lead down to 2-1 at half time.
If Jurgen Klinsmann`s men thought that the late goal would lead to a change in pace after the break, they were in for a rude awakening. Marcelo started a fluid Brazil counter from deep with a surging run, and after slipping the ball to Hulk the Real Madrid star continued to burst into the box and turn in Neymar`s cross to mark the third goal of the Selecao`s evening.
The hosts then had a golden chance to once more move within one goal of their opponents, but were denied by the finest of margins. Herculez Gomez`s header across the net looked destined to fall into the path of Clint Dempsey, but the substitute was denied by an inspired clearance from Romulo as the Vasco man hooked away on his own goal-line.
With 25 minutes to go Alexandre Pato was introduced for Damiao, and the Milan starlet could have netted within seconds of his introduction. Neymar and Oscar played a delightful one-two to send the Santos man darting through, but his squared ball was driven onto the post by Pato and bounced to safety.
The second half continued at a hectic pace from both teams, as the United States looked to play their way back into the game while Brazil were keen to complete a comprehensive triumph. Wonderful work between Neymar and Marcelo teed up Oscar for a long-ranged effort, but the Inter starlet could not cap another impressive display with a goal. At the other end, Rafael proved why he is considered the best young keeper in Brazil with a spectacular double stop to deny first Gomez and then, at point-blank range, Terrence Boyd.
The 22-year-old keeper was in outstanding form in the dying minutes, as the US threw everything into seeking a draw. Donovan was one man frustrated by Rafael with a brilliant save from his header; and as gaps appeared in defence at the other end, Pato took full advantage to drive Marcelo`s cross into the net and give the win an even more flattering appearance.
The win extends Brazil`s recent record to nine consecutive victories, while inflicting the first defeat of 2012 on their rivals. The Selecao will next meet Mexico on June 3, before taking on South American rivals Argentina in New Jersey six days later.