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Neymar goal caps impressive Brazil win over feisty Austria

14 June 2018
Neymar goal caps impressive Brazil win over feisty Austria

Marko Arnautovic gave Brazil a couple of early frights before the South Americans went ahead in the 36th minute, Jesus scoring with a delightful dinked effort from a hard angle for his 10th goal in 17 internationals.

Roberto Firmino's incredible season with Liverpool led to increasing calls in Brazil for Tite to find a place for him in the starting XI, mostly by giving him Jesus' spot in attack. He stayed on for nearly the entire game, being replaced in the 84th by Douglas Costa.

"I don't know if I can say that this will be the team at the start of the World Cup", he told reporters.

In addition to its strong spine, this 2018 squad has some of the fastest and hardest-working wing-backs and a handful of the most skilful attacking players in the game today.

Neymar was running at full stride against Austria.

He played 84 minutes in the Austrian capital after replacing Manchester City midfielder Fernandinho in the starting line-up, surviving a couple of bruising challenges from Austria's Watford defender Sebastian Proedl, who was booked in the second half.

There was little let up after Austria captain Julian Baumgartlinger trod on his ankle in the third minute and Neymar joked the hosts' tactics at the Ernst-Happel-Stadion were more suited to mixed martial arts. Similar fouls were committed by Florian Grillitsch in the 35th and Sebatian Proedl in the 53rd. Just like Neymar, he missed the semi-final against Germany and Brazil went on to concede seven goals, which shows how crucial he is for Brazil's defence.

Costa's return was also good news for Tite. Germany and Italy are their closest competitor by winning the 4 times.

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He would not confirm, however, that the same side would start Brazil's opening World Cup game against Switzerland on 17 June. As a youngster, Neymar was well known in the favelas of Brazil as an uber talented street footballer who could leave much older players flat footed with his dribbling skills.

On Brasil, Raísa Simplicio also noted Coutinho's importance in branding him the "ritmista" of the national team - a samba term given to one who dictates the rhythm of the beat and a specialist in percussion instruments - who "shone like a maestro" and is prepared for his role at the World Cup.

The team will face Switzerland on Sunday in its Group E opener in Rostov-on-Don and then play Costa Rica on June 22 in St. Petersburg and Serbia on June 27 in Moscow.

Brazil had endured trying times in the qualifying campaign and faced the risk of not qualifying before former coach Dunga was sacked. It saw a seven-match winning streak, including victories over World Cup host Russian Federation and world champion Germany, come to an end.