Monday, June 17, 2024

Neymar stunner gives Brazil win over Colombia


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* Neymar free-kick gives Dunga win on return * Cuadrado sent off for Colombia in 49th minute By Simon Evans MIAMI, Sep 6 (Reuters)

A superb 83rd minute free-kick from captain Neymar gave Brazil a winning start under new coach Dunga as they beat Colombia 1-0 in a fiercely contested friendly on Friday.
It will take more than a win of this nature, against a team reduced to ten men for the last 41 minutes, to put the harrowing 7-1 loss World Cup semi-final loss to Germany out of Brazil’s minds but Dunga said the win was a confidence booster.
“It is always good to win, especially with the criticism after the World Cup, some of which was very strong,” said Dunga who is in his second spell as Brazil coach after taking over from Luiz Felipe Scolari.
“This will help the players to regain self-esteem and confidence. I told them that they are here because they are the best and they have dreamt their whole life to be here. They should not be afraid and just have to go out there and play,” added the captain of the 1994 World Cup winning team.
Colombia midfielder Juan Cuadrado was sent off in the 49th minute following a second yellow card for a foul on Neymar and there was no shortage of effort – or indeed rough challenges – from both teams.
New Manchester United striker Radamel Falcao made his return to the Colombian team for the first time since November as a 77th minute substitute to the delight of the large and loud Colombian contingent in the capacity 73,429 crowd at SunLife stadium.
“He wasn’t really able to play more than those minutes,” said Colombia coach Jose Pekerman yesterday.
“After such a complicated week with all the stress of his move to Manchester United, it would have been a risk to play him more minutes especially ahead of a season where he is going to have a lot of tough games with a new club, with a lot of responsibility.
“But the few minutes he did have were important and he was even close to the goal. He gives this team a lot, they are confident with him and he gives us different options.”.
The game marked the start of the new four year cycle for both countries as they begin to look to the 2018 World Cup in Russia but the impact of this year’s tournament in Brazil was clearly still fresh.
Colombia’s last outing was their infamous 2-1 defeat to Brazil in the World Cup quarter-finals – a match which saw Neymar suffer a tournament ending injury after a knee in the back from Camilo Zuniga.
Zuniga, who became a hate figure in Brazil, and Neymar captained their respective teams and in a public display of reconciliation, they hugged each other on the field shortly before kick-off.
Despite that gesture Neymar came in for some rough attention from the Colombians, although at times his tumbles after challenges were close to laughable.
Brazil’s Diego Tardelli had an effort ruled out for offside in the 25th minute after good work from left-back Filipe Luis but Dunga’s team should have had the lead seven minutes before the break.
Willian broke down the right and slipped the ball to Oscar but the Chelsea midfielder’s shot was weak and off-target.
With the numerical advantage after Cuadrado’s dismissal Brazil enjoyed the better of the game but it was not until seven minutes from the end that they broke through – a curling 25 metre free-kick from Neymar that flew into the top corner out of David Ospina’s reach.
Falcao’s introduction provided some late impetus to the Colombian attacks but the striker, still easing back from the knee ligament injury which cost him his place at the World Cup, will be disappointed not to have found the target with a header from close range in the final minute.
Brazil will play Ecuador in New Jersey on Tuesday. (PTI)


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