Neymar returns with brilliant solo goal against Croatia
International friendly, Anfield - Brazil 2 (Neymar 70', Firmino 90+3') Croatia 0
Neymar marked his return from injury with a stunning strike as Brazil saw off Croatia 2-0 in a friendly match at Anfield.
The Selecao struggled for momentum in the opening 45 minutes, but that all changed when the Paris Saint-Germain forward came off the bench at half time to make his first appearance in three months.
The world's most expensive player has been fighting back to fitness since he suffered a fractured metatarsal and sprained ankle against Marseille in Ligue 1 on February 25.
The highlight of the Anfield game came when Neymar dribbled past two opposition defenders, firing high into the roof of the net in emphatic fashion. Roberto Firmino added a second in stoppage time to satisfy the home fans on Merseyside.
Brazil were far from at their best against a Croatia side that edged matters in the first half, but the return of Neymar will give them a boost with the World Cup kicking off on June 14. Tite’s team are expected to challenge for the big prize in Russia this summer.
Brazil face Austria in a friendly next Sunday before they begin their campaign for a sixth World Cup against Switzerland on June 17.
TALKING POINT - Dani Alves’ injury could prove to be a real issue for Brazil
Tite has one of the deepest squads to choose from at this summer’s World Cup, but some players are irreplaceable and Dani Alves certainly looks to fit that bill.
This resulted in a lack of mobility between the lines of transition. It was only through Neymar’s introduction that this was addressed. Alves will be a big miss in Russia.
MAN OF THE MATCH - Neymar (Brazil)
Brazil's Neymar celebrates scoring their first goal with team matesReuters
The Paris Saint-Germain forward injected pace and drive to the Brazilian frontline when he came off the bench at half time, marking his display with a stunning opening goal, jinking pass two defenders before lashing a finish high into the net. Neymar is going to be just fine this summer.
- Brazil: Alisson 5, Danilo 5, Silva 5, Miranda 5, Marcelo 6, Paulinho 6, Casemiro 5, Fernandinho 5, Willian 7, Jesus 6, Coutinho 7..subs - Marquinhos 5, Fred 5, Firmino 7, Taison 4, Neymar 8, Filipe 5
- Croatia: Subasic 6, Vrsaljko 6, Lovren 6, Corluka 6, Vida 5, Rakitic 5, Badelj 5, Modric 7, Perisic 5, Rebic 6, Kramaric 6..subs - Jedvaj 5, Caleta-Car 5, Kovacic 5, Brozovic 5, Bradaric 4, Pjaca 4
- 13’ NOT FAR AWAY! First real chance for either side, with Lovren getting on the end of a corner kick. However, the Croatian centre back sends his header just past the post. Not far away at all.
- 45’ NEYMAR ON! The Paris Saint-Germain forward is back from injury. He’s spent the past three months out, but has returned just in time for the World Cup. Brazil will need him in Russia this summer.
- 70’ GOAL! Brazil 1-0 Croatia: He's back! Neymar has made his return from injury and he has found the net! Great skill from the Paris Saint-Germain man, cutting inside on to his right foot and slamming a finish high into the opposition net. What a goal that it! Wow!
- 93’ GOAL! Brazil 2-0 Croatia: A second goal for the Selecao and it's Firmino who nets it in front of his own fans! It was poor defending from Croatia, but the striker nipped in and lobbed a finish over Subasic
Neymar now has 54 goals for Brazil, making him the Selecao’s fourth top goalscorer in their history.
Brazil's Neymar celebrates scoring their first goalReuters