Brazil maintain perfect qualifying start

Star forward Neymar scores from retaken penalty to help side beat Ecuador 2-0


AFP June 05, 2021

PORTO ALEGRE:

Star forward Neymar scored a retaken penalty as Brazil maintained their perfect start to South American World Cup qualifying with a 2-0 win over Ecuador on Friday.

Richarlison had given Brazil the lead on 64 minutes and Neymar sealed the win deep into injury time, but only after another VAR farce.

Referee Alexis Herrera initially gave a free-kick against Gabriel Jesus after contact between him and Angelo Preciado in the Ecuador area five minutes from time.

But after an interminable four-minute VAR review, he changed his mind and awarded a penalty.

Neymar stuttered in his run-up but Ecuador goalkeeper Alexander Dominguez wasn't fooled and easily saved his weak shot.

Ecuador were then down the other end attacking when Herrera blew his whistle and brought the game back for encroachment by Dominguez.

Neymar retook the penalty and this time sent Dominguez the wrong way.

The slapstick ending could not mask a deserved victory for Brazil, who now top the qualification table by four points from unbeaten Argentina, with Ecuador third, two points further back.

Predictably, Brazil dominated the early possession with 75 percent of the ball in the first quarter of an hour.

But it wasn't until 20 minutes that they first threatened with Richarlison millimeters away from turning home a whipped inswinging Neymar freekick.

Moments later Richarlison played Gabriel in on goal but Dominguez was out quickly to smother his poked effort.

Ecuador were their usual physical selves but showed little of the attacking verve that had seen them score 13 goals in their previous three matches.

Neymar in particular felt the full force of Ecuador's muscular approach.

Brazil thought they'd gone in front three minutes before the break when Gabriel converted a right wing cross from Danilo but Ecuador were saved by a narrow offside call.

A minute later Dominguez had to scoop behind a rasping long-range drive from Neymar.

Ecuadoran chances were few and far between, with fullback Preciado blazing over from 20 yards on 58 minutes.

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