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Neymar lights up Brazil but ‘ahead, everything remains dark’

Brazil may rarely lose to Chile, but host nation not getting too carried away

Neymar: “The history of Brazil’s five world titles reveres the figure of the craque. He resolves the most complicated hours, improvises and scores decisive goals.”

And breathe Brazil!

There had been no panic after the host’s unconvincing displays in its first two game of this World Cup. Frustration, preoccupation, concern yes, but no panic. But you could almost sense the first tremors, a few twitches, when Cameroon equalised last night in the magnificent white elephant that is Brasília’s Mané Garrincha stadium.

But cometh the hour, cometh the man. Having already notched up his third goal of the tournament Neymar picked up the ball 30 yards from goal and hared off for his second. A nation explodes in relief.

So no prizes for guessing who is dominating the headlines in Brazil this morning. His golden highlights grace the front page of sports paper Lance! which gets two headlines in one with ‘100PRE ELE’ meaning both ‘100 per cent him’ and ‘Always Him’. Continuing the 100 theme the paper noted ‘Neymar in the 100th game of Brazil in World Cups scores the 100th goal of the 2014 Cup and is the difference in the most difficult moments. Without him what would we be?’

“The history of Brazil’s five world titles reveres the figure of the craque. He resolves the most complicated hours, improvises and scores decisive goals,” notes Sílvio Barsetti in Estado de S.Paulo. “In the qualification achieved yesterday . . . between what went right and wrong there was the geniality of Neymar. He pulled off those dribbles that leave opponents disorientated. He led the team, shouted, helped in defence and in the moment when the team’s failings threatened to disappoint nearly 70,000 fans he surged through fast an implacable.”

There was also widespread acknowledgement that Brazil’s improved display in the second half was due to Felipão hooking the disappointing Paulinho and replacing him with Fernandinho who scored one goal, was involved in another and immediately sparked a campaign for his inclusion from the start against Chile on Saturday.

“The difference between the Brazil of the first half and the second is like that between water and wine, between salt and sugar, between Paulinho and Fernandinho,” waxed Paulo Vinícius Coelho in Folha de S.Paulo. “The Manchester City midfielder was called up to be back-up for Luiz Gustavo and will be a starter in place of Paulinho. The change was not just in individual quality, but in the manner with which the seleção played: much more collectively.”

Elsewhere there was relief that Fred finally got a goal, nowhere more so than on Globo television. Its master of ceremonies Galvão Bueno seemed on the verge of commandeering Nasa’s satellites to prove the much criticised striker was onside after the Fifa transmission appeared to show he wasn’t. No-one, it seemed, wanted new doubts hanging over Fred after his first week at the tournament was overshadowed by his theatrical fall to win a dodgy penalty against Croatia in the opening game.

After all, Brazil only topped the group on goal difference, but would be facing the increasingly intimidating looking Netherlands side if two of Mexico’s goals has not been incorrectly flagged for offside in their opening game against Cameroon, something few were willing to dwell on in the general happiness.

Instead up comes Chile. Brazil never lose to them, either at home or in World Cups so easy, right? Maybe not. “Brazil’s chances [OF WINNING]are greater, which doesn’t mean it is already decided,”writes the ever-wise Tostão. “History recounts what has happened. Ahead, everything remains dark.”