After the frustrating display at Santiago, Chile and suspension of the match against Argentina, Brazil faced Peru. The times have changed and such rosters are not a hundred percent guarantee of victory like the good old days, rather, the fear of losing against lower-ranked sides remain. Thankfully, Brazil fared better than the outing against Chile to bag full points and retain their top spot in the CONMEBOL World Cup Qualifiers.
Peru made a single change from their 1-0 victory over Venezuela last time out, as Gonzales replaced Flores in midfield.
Brazil made three changes from their 1-0 victory over Chile last Thursday. Verissimo started at centre-back ahead of Marquinhos while ahead of him in central midfield, Gerson is preferred to Bruno Guimaraes. The final switch was on the left-wing, where Everton Ribeiro gets the nod ahead of Vinicius Junior.
Peru were off to a promising start, winning an early corner after Advincula’s low cross from the right was blocked out for a corner. The set-piece is a disappointing one however as Alex Sandro was able to head it away at the near post.
A beautiful attacking move as Gabriel came short to play a first-time pass over the top of the defence for Lucas Paqueta, drawing Gallese out of his goal. The midfielder looked to pass it inside, but the Brazil attack was unable to scramble it into the open goal.
A Peruvian corner from the left was only half-cleared, allowing the visitors to come forward again to put pressure on Weverton but Lapadula rushed his shot and sent the chance high over the crossbar.
Gerson took a strike from just inside the penalty area but Gallese stopped the ball with the outside of his arm.
In the fourteenth minute, Neymar won the ball back high up the pitch on the left touchline and immediately drove towards goal before centring a low cross into the penalty area. Rebeiro showed up at the back post in perfect time and turned the ball over the line.
Who else but Neymar was at the centre of Brazil’s creative force!
Peru’s players were furious with the referee, as they feel Neymar had committed a foul on Santamaria on the touchline, which allowed him to win the ball back in the lead up to the goal. The referee was in contact with VAR but it did not appear as though it would be overturned as Brazil’s lead was confirmed.
Then, Neymar played a lovely chip in-between the Peru centre-backs for Gabriel, who latched onto the ball and has a strike at goal. Santamaria slid in and put the ball behind for a corner, though the Brazil striker was adamant he should be awarded a handball.
Brazil had been fast, accurate and their fluid display always kept Peru on the back foot, who could hardly pose a threat.
At the stroke of halftime, a Ribeiro shot ricocheted neatly in front of Neymar who calmly made it 2-0 – his sixty-ninth goal in yellow shirt.
After the break, Peru made changes with the intent of a comeback, but there was hardly any possibility, even though the tempo of Brazil slowed down a bit, still, they were able to create chances.
Neymar went on a tremendous drive through midfield, wriggling his way into the penalty area and centring a pass for Gabriel just before going over the byline. It was a great effort from Neymar but Gallese manages to make the eventual save.
Neymar attempted an audacious overhead kick from the edge of the penalty area but it never looked likely to trouble Gallese as it looped over the crossbar and out.
The in-form Hulk was brought on in the closing stages – who got on the end of a ball over the top and dragged Gallese off his line before firing an off-balance shot. The winger had the whole net to aim at but he misplaced his effort and sent it into the side-netting.
And that was it.
A comfortable evening witnessed Brazil wrap up the victory in the first half, as the goals scored by Ribeiro and Neymar at the 14th and 40th minutes respectively were enough to give the Selecao all three points.
In a cagey evening that saw a warranted eight yellow cards as well as two borderline penalty decisions not called, the hosts never really looked in danger of conceding.
Militao had a tremendous game again at the back, blocking everything that came his way, giving his goalkeeper an easy night in the process.
A speculative Carrillo effort and a drive from range from Flores were as close as the Blanquirroja got to scoring as Gareca will be looking for a better showing next time out.
Brazil stay at the top of the group with a 100% record, while Peru sit seventh.