BARCELONA: Brazil talisman Neymar returned in style with a dazzling goal in a 2-0 World Cup warm-up win over Croatia and Spain goalkeeper David de Gea made a rare error in his team’s 1-1 draw with Switzerland on Sunday.
Paris St Germain forward Neymar allayed fears a long injury layoff since hurting his ankle and metatarsal in late February would harm his chances of making an impact in Russia with an impressive display from the bench in his first game back.
The world’s most expensive player skipped past two defenders before blasting the ball in off the underside of the crossbar to put Brazil ahead against Croatia in the 69th minute. Liverpool forward Roberto Firmino sealed the win for Tite’s side with a dinked finish in stoppage-time at his club’s home Anfield as Brazil confirmed their credentials as one of the favourites to win the tournament.
“He came back better than I expected. I expected much less, because it is a process,” Tite said of Neymar’s return. “He is a player that is different but he can’t be given all the responsibility to decide the game, that’s not humane, he is a key part but not everything.”
Spain are also expected to make a big impact in Russia after their group-stage exit in 2014 but they were left frustrated by Manchester United goalkeeper De Gea’s inability to catch a soft shot from Stefan Lichtsteiner which allowed Ricardo Rodriguez to tap in and cancel out Alvaro Odriozola’s volley.
Lopetegui’s side had two-thirds of possession and looked in control of the game until De Gea’s mishap, although they lacked dynamism and were a far cry from the ruthless side who hammered Argentina 6-1 in their last game.
“I’m sure in other games we’ll be able to make the most of half the amount of chances we had,” said the Spain coach. “I’m pleased that we were able to create lots of chances and they barely created opportunities against us.”