A fine header from Richarlison, on for the injured Neymar, was enough to give Brazil their sixth win in a row since losing to Belgium at the World Cup, a period in which they have also not conceded. Cameroon were game enough opponents, but poor decision-making in promising positions made it a fairly relaxing night for Brazil's back five.
The first half was fairly quiet save that groin-tweak for Neymar, which doubtless upset his close friend Edinson Cavani. Brazil still enjoyed the majority of the play, much of it inspired by Richarlison and Andre Onana, in the Cameroon goal, was forced to make two fine saves from the miserably out of form Roberto Firmino. The second of those, just before the break, gave Brazil a corner, and from it, Willian picked out Richarlison's run, and he thumped a header inside the near post.
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After half-time, Brazil picked up the pace, the introduction of Gabriel Jesus for Firmino giving them more speed and options in attack. But Jesus hit the post when Fabrice Ondoa charged out of his goal for no reason, and the keeper then made two more fine saves to keep his team in the game. But as time ticked away, Brazil looked the likelier scorers, and as such, were good value for their win.
Will Tite find the balance? Brazil are solid enough, with good enough attackers, to beat most teams. But they are not as good as they should be, which is why Tite tried Roberto Firmino up front ahead of Gabriel Jesus. The move didn't work, because Jesus' pace and willingness to run channels creates space for the wingers; the problem, really, is in midfield. Arthur will be a mainstay for the next generation, but in front of him, Paulinho is not the answer, and Allan probably isn't either. Touch players need other touch players to combine with.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Richarlison (Brazil) - No one really stood out, but Richarlison injected some energy and purpose when he came on, then scored the winner with a fine run and header. It's hard to see him as a starter quite yet because of who's ahead of him, but if he continues improving, it won't be long.
Brazil: Ederson 6, danilo 6, Pablo 6, Marquinhos 6, Alex Sandro 6, Arthur 6, Allan 6, Paulinho 5, Willian 7, Firmino 4, Neymar 6. Subs: Richarlison 7, Gabriel Jesus 6, Walace 6, Douglas Costa 6.
Cameroon: Onana 7, Fuchs 5, Kana-Biyik 5, Banana 6, Bong 5, Mandjeck 6, Kunde 6, Djoum 5, Choupo-Moting 5, Ekambi 5, Bahoken 5. Subs: Ondoa 7, N'jie 6, Olinga 6, Bssogog 6, Zoua 6.
Image credit: Getty Images
6' - Neymar suffers a nasty-looking injury and is clutching his groin. What a blow this would be for club and country.
Brazil's Neymar down injured against Cameroon
Image credit: Reuters
12’ - Brazil play it out from the back, and Arthur turns blind - he's quickly robbed, and Ekambi drags a shot wide from 20 yards.
22’ - IIt's just not happening for Firmino! Willian, who is in fact on the right, pulls back low and well for Firmino, and he's in front of goal, eight yards out! But instead of picking a spot, he takes a touch to control, and as the ball gets away from him, flicks an outside of the footer that Onana (what's his name) saves really well, throwing out an arm.
45’ - GOAL! Brazil 1-0 Cameroon (Richarlison) This is a very nice finish indeed; Willian swings the corner to the near post and Richarlison, helped by fine blocking from Paulinho, runs around the back and from out to in before punishing a header just inside the post. He's looked good since coming on.
68’ - Brazil move the ball from right to centre, and Arthur, given time and space, whips a curler over Ondoa and against the bar! Great effort!
86’- Nice from Brazil, Alex Sandro and Richarlison combining down the left for the latter to pick out Allan with a cross; eight yards out, he should score, but instead of picking a corner assumes that decent contact will be enough. He achieves that, but it isn't, Ondoa shoving away.