Neymar scores on comeback as Brazil see off Croatia

PSG forward breaks deadlock at Anfield as he makes timely return from injury

Neymar scored on his return from injury as Brazil beat Croatia 2-0. Photograph: Andrew Yates/Reuters

Neymar scored on his return from injury as Brazil beat Croatia 2-0. Photograph: Andrew Yates/Reuters

 

Brazil 2 Croatia 0

Neymar marked his return from a knee injury in spectacular fashion as Brazil beat Croatia 2-0 in a pre-World Cup friendly at Anfield.

The Paris St Germain star produced a stunning individual effort in the 68th minute of his first outing since he fractured his metatarsal playing for Paris St Germain in February.

And much to the delight of the sizeable home support, Liverpool playmaker Roberto Firmino added the second in added time to wrap up a comfortable win for the Brazilians.

Neymar had started on the bench as he eases back into contention but there was a start for former Liverpool star Philippe Coutinho on his return to Anfield.

It was the Croatians, limbering up for a tough group involving Argentina, Nigeria and Iceland, who threatened first but an Ante Rebic chance was snuffed out by Thiago Silva.

Also playing on home soil, Croatian defender Dejan Lovren came close to snatching the lead when he headed inches over from a corner.

And despite relatively few first-half chances, the intent within the game could not be under-stated with both Ivan Perisic and Fernandinho booked by referee Michael Oliver in a tetchy end to the first half.

Barcelona midfielder Philippe Coutinho in action at Anfield. Photograph: Oli Scarff/AFP
Barcelona midfielder Philippe Coutinho in action at Anfield. Photograph: Oli Scarff/AFP

Neymar’s introduction added urgency to the Brazilian forward line which only increased when Firmino replaced Gabriel Jesus on the hour.

And Neymar broke the deadlock in style when he was fed by Coutinho on the left and drifted inside, beating Sime Vrsaljko before lashing the ball home off the crossbar.

Chances remained at a premium in what, Neymar apart, was proving a low-key encounter, with both sides evidently having their minds on other things.

But there was the finish the home fans wanted deep in stoppage time when Firmino met Casemiro’s lofted cross and chipped home with a beautiful finish.

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