Richarlison continued an impressive start to his Brazil career with the only goal after replacing the injured Neymar in a 1-0 win over Cameroon in Milton Keynes.
The Everton man arrived from the bench just eight minutes into Tuesday’s friendly as Neymar went down with an apparent groin problem, but the captain’s absence was only briefly felt.
Andre Onana’s best efforts to keep Brazil off the scoresheet were thwarted on the stroke of half-time as Richarlison thundered in a fine header, his third goal for the senior side.
Further chances came and went, but the travelling samba stars secured another functional victory to close out 2018.
Paris Saint-Germain will hope the Neymar news is not serious on a night when strike partner Kylian Mbappe also suffered an injury while playing for France.
— CBF Futebol (@CBF_Futebol) November 20, 2018
Allan worked Onana early on after a smart turn in the area, yet Brazil were soon distracted by Neymar’s ailment and consequent withdrawal.
Minds were perhaps still elsewhere when Arthur’s dallying presented Pierre Kunde with a clear opening that he dragged well wide, but Tite’s men were soon back on the attack and Onana brilliantly denied Roberto Firmino from close range.
Although Onana was at his best again before the break to turn away a Firmino header, the goalkeeper was soon beaten as Richarlison crashed home Willian’s corner.
A bright start to the second half saw Stephane Bahoken poke agonisingly wide at one end, before substitute keeper Fabrice Ondoa incredibly presented Gabriel Jesus with an open goal as he rushed from his line, the Manchester City forward striking the post from a tight angle.
Arthur, too, worked the woodwork with a curler against the crossbar, while Ondoa atoned for his earlier error with a stunning double-stop from Jesus and Richarlison to limit Brazil, who were comfortable in the closing stages, to just the one goal.
What does it mean? More functional than fluent
It has been the story of Brazil’s year. They have played 15 games, won 13 and conceded just three goals, yet they were knocked out of the World Cup in the last eight. Tite’s side again looked sturdy in this clash, but there was little to thrill the assembled neutrals.
Richarlison takes his chance
The main beneficiary of Neymar’s substitution was Richarlison and he took his chance. A thumping header belatedly broke the deadlock and, while Neymar is a shoe-in on the left of the Brazil front three, Richarlison is making a decent case for consideration in a central striking role, having produced a good all-round display in addition to his goal. Willian also shone with four chances created.
| He’s at it again.
— Everton (@Everton) November 20, 2018
Tale of two forwards
Firmino has struggled for form this season, netting just once for Brazil since the World Cup. Given Jesus’ poor performances in Russia, this stretch of games should have provided Firmino with an opportunity to make his mark. He disappointed again despite having four attempts at goal, creating zero opportunities for his team-mates before Brazil improved with Jesus on the pitch.
With the international calendar now on hold until March, focus will shift to Neymar’s fitness from a PSG perspective. Mbappe also suffered an injury in his country’s match against Uruguay and Thomas Tuchel will potentially face a crucial stage of the campaign without two key men.
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