Brazil wonderkid Neymar underlined his growing reputation with both goals in a 2-0 friendly win over Scotland at Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium on Sunday.
Neymar, a teenage striker with Santos, is reportedly high on the transfer shopping lists of Chelsea and Real Madrid and it was easy to see why after an eye-catching display capped by the first-half opener and a late penalty.
The supremely-gifted 19-year-old scored on his full debut for Mano Menezes’ side in August and now has three goals in three international appearances as Brazil got back on track after successive defeats against Argentina and France.
The presence of Brazil legend Ronaldo, who was introduced to the teams before kick-off, provided a vivid reminder of a glorious era for the Selecao that included their last World Cup triumph back in 2002.
With Brazil hosting the World Cup in 2014, the pressure is on Menezes to deliver a team capable of emulating Ronaldo’s generation.
For the moment, Menezes’s team remains a work in progress as they prepare for the Copa America in July. But even without injured stars Robinho and Alexandre Pato and out of favour playmaker Kaka, they still had more than enough skill to keep Scotland on the back foot.
There were early signs of their potential as Jadson’s shot forced Allan McGregor into action before Leandro Damiao nearly enjoyed a dream debut when he met Elano’s corner with a header that grazed the crossbar.
Soon after, Brazilian appeals for handball were rejected by referee Howard Webb, although television replays showed Gary Caldwell used his arm to blocked Lucas Leiva’s cross.
Scotland had failed to win any of their nine previous meetings with Brazil, including memorable World Cup encounters in 1982 and 1998, but the probability of another defeat didn’t stop over 20,000 fans heading south for a chance to see the five-time world champions.
Craig Levein’s team were willing but extremely limited and gave the ball away far too easily.
When the Scots finally got in an advanced position Steven Whittaker’s glancing header from a Charlie Adam free-kick didn’t test Julio Cesar.
Neymar made them pay as he broke the deadlock with a fine finish in the 42nd minute.
Ramires started the move with a long pass out to Andre Santos on the left wing and his cross picked out Neymar in space in the penalty area.
Caldwell was too concerned about Neymar’s trickery to close down the forward and that allowed him to curl a low shot into the far corner.
Neymar gave another glimpse of his vast potential when he surged towards the Scotland area early in the second half and fired just over the bar.
Monents later, Chelsea’s Ramires robbed James McArthur before attempting a pass to Neymar that was palmed away by McGregor, who then dived to block Leandro’s effort from the rebound.
Scotland’s supporters had been so starved of promise from their team that they almost lifted the roof off the Emirates when they won two corners in quick succession.
But Brazil continued to create chances as Ramires fired over from Dani Alves’ cross and Leandro went close with another header.
Fittingly it was Neymar who had the last word as picked himself up to score a 77th minute penalty after winning the spot-kick by tempting Adam into a clumsy foul.
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