Two first half goals from Neymar were just enough to hold off a determined Spanish team as Brazil recorded a 2-1 victory during their international clash in front of a capacity crowd at ‘Striker’ Stadium.
All three goals came before half time, with Brazil skipping to an early 2-0 lead before Diego Costa gave Spain hope.
The first 30 minutes of play were dominated by Brazil; the confident passing of the South American champions was a feature of their play. They worked the ball with effortless aplomb, contrasting their long-ball play with the tight, short and sharp passing traditionally associated with the tiki taka of Spain.
In the 8th minute Spain’s defense let them down. Coutinho won the ball on the left wing for Brazil and dribbled into the box. His cut-back pass towards the penalty spot was met by Neymar who crushed the ball into the back of the net to give Brazil the early lead.
Neymar latches onto a cut back ball from Coutinho and smashes the shot past David De Gea for Brazil’s first goal of the match.
Another Spanish defensive error in the 30th minute led to Brazil’s second goal, this time originating on the right wing when Firmino was left completely unmarked in a dangerous area of the field. The ball went wide into space and then was deftly chipped into the box. Neymar had ghosted in behind the defense and leaped high to head home his second goal from just 7 yards.
Neymar leaps high to meet a right wing cross from Firmino after a second defensive error by the Spanish.
It was all that Spanish coach, Julen Lopetegui, could take. He immediately went to his substitutes, replacing a defender and also substituting one of his strikers for another midfielder. The Spanish had gone into the game in a 4.3.3. The new 4.4.2 structure gave them a very different shape.
The change of formation worked almost immediate wonders for Spain. They were suddenly more secure in the midfield, choking off Brazilian attacks and sweeping forward to support their own raids. Just eight minutes after the double change, Spain struck back with a goal of their own from Diego Costa.
The chance came after a superb stanza of tiki taka passing through the heart of Brazil’s midfield. Suddenly Costa was on the ball. With Jordi Alba looming up in support, Costa decided instead to take on the defense himself. He beat one tackle, jinked into space, and fired a shot from close range to bring the score back to 2-1.
Costa takes on the Brazilian defense and goes for goal with Jordi Alba in support.
The second half saw Spain pressing hard for an equalizer, and for long stanzas of play they were able to dominate the Brazilians with tight passing and quick ball movement that culminated in pressure… but no more goals.
Brazil pinned in their own half and trying to work the ball out of midfield under tight marking and intense pressure from a rejuvenated Spanish team.
With time running out, Spain threw more and more men forward. They were lucky not to be caught on the counter-attack by Brazil who had two chances to go further ahead. Only the skills of keeper De Gea kept Spain in touch.
Finally, in the 87th minute, David Silva almost snatched the draw the Spanish were so desperately searching for.
Receiving the ball outside the penalty box, Silva could find no support. With the clock ticking down to the full-time whistle, Silva turned on the ball and fired off a long-range shot that cracked against the crossbar. It was to be Spain’s last chance for the match.
Brazil had held on to record a crucial 2-1 victory.
David Silva fires off a long range thunderbolt shot that smashes against the crossbar. It was Spain’s last chance to score in the match. The miss meant Brazil won the clash 2-1.