Substitute Gabriel Jesus scored a late double as Brazil came from behind to beat the Czech Republic 3-1 despite an underwhelming performance from the Selecao in Prague on Tuesday.
Tite’s team faced strong criticism after being held to a 1-1 draw by Panama in Porto on Saturday and they struggled against a Czech Republic side that went down 5-0 to England in Euro 2020 qualifying on Friday.
David Pavelka put the hosts ahead with his first international goal before half-time, but Roberto Firmino pounced on a mix-up between Theodor Gebre Selassie and Marek Suchy to equalise early in the second half.
Jesus replaced Philippe Coutinho in the 72nd minute and struck twice to help ease the pressure that seemed to be mounting on Tite ahead of a Copa America on home soil.
After a tepid start the first shot on target came in the 22nd minute, with Patrik Schick’s deflected free-kick pushed aside by Alisson before Pavelka miscued on the follow-up.
The Czech Republic looked more dangerous and their positivity was rewarded in the 37th minute when Schick helped Lukas Masopust’s pass beyond Marquinhos and Pavelka drilled a pinpoint finish into the bottom-left corner.
První poločas na Před pár okamžiky začal ten druhý pic.twitter.com/uUz6jmOBT6
— Česká fotbalová reprezentace (@ceskarepre_cz) March 26, 2019
Brazil equalised four minutes after the restart when Gebre Selassie and Suchy contrived to present Firmino with a golden opportunity he did not pass up.
The Czech Republic lost Darida and Ondrej Celustka to injury – and Jiri Pavlenka did superbly to keep out Coutinho and debutant David Neres, who replaced Richarlison in the 63rd minute.
Neres’ direct running and pace caused the hosts problems and he latched onto a throughball from Danilo to tee up Jesus, who converted despite sending a bobbling pass uncomfortably close to the crossbar in the 83rd minute.
Manchester City striker Jesus finished off another clinical move seven minutes later to wrap up a seventh win in eight matches for Brazil.
What does it mean? Tite’s aim for continuity unrewarded
Tite made six changes to the team that drew 1-1 with Panama but kept the front four intact to try to provide prospective Selecao first-team regulars Lucas Paqueta and Richarlison with some familiarity.
However, a dismal opening period led to the Brazil boss hooking Paqueta ahead of the second half and it was Jesus and Neres that eventually did the damage for the visitors.
It remains a big worry for Brazil that they lack a convincing formula up front without the talismanic Neymar.
Neres introduction proves decisive
While Jesus may have got the goals, it was Ajax winger Neres who deserves the plaudits for a late flourish from Brazil.
Unperturbed by being denied a debut goal in the 77th minute, he set up Jesus’ first and produced an exquisite backheel that Allan used to feed the former Palmeiras man for his second.
Paqueta takes a step backwards
After marking his first start for Brazil with a goal in the draw against Panama, Paqueta was unable to follow it up with another impressive display that would have enhanced his chances of featuring at the Copa America.
The AC Milan midfielder completed just 58 per cent of his passes and lost possession 11 times in the first half.
Brazil are yet to define their warm-up matches ahead of the Copa America on home soil, which they begin with a match against Bolivia on June 14. The Czech Republic face Bulgaria in a Euro 2020 qualifier in the same month.
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