Paulinho scored an unlikely hat-trick and Neymar starred as Brazil extended their winning run and lead atop the Planet Cup qualifying standings with a 4-1 victory over Uruguay.
In Thursday’s top-of-the-table clash in Montevideo, Brazil came out on prime in style because of a hat-trick from former Tottenham midfielder Paulinho and Neymar’s delicious lob.
Edinson Cavani opened the scoring with a ninth-minute penalty – his 40th international target – but Paulinho restored parity through a gorgeous long-range strike ten minutes later just before giving Brazil the lead seven minutes into the second half.
Neymar’s touch of class 16 minutes from time made it 3-1 and Paulinho sealed the points in stoppage time with his third as Brazil snapped Uruguay’s 14-match unbeaten record at property in World Cup qualifiers – dating back to 2009 – when creating it eight wins in a row under head coach Tite.
Brazil are now seven points clear of nearest challengers Uruguay soon after 13 matches inside the CONMEBOL section on the road to Russia 2018.
Each Uruguay and Brazil had been without having their leading forwards for the blockbuster reverse fixture at Estadio Centenario, following last year’s 2-2 draw in Recife.
Uruguay’s all-time leading goalscorer Luis Suarez missed the match by means of suspension as Cavani led the line for the hosts with the support of Diego Rolan. Seasoned goalkeeper Fernando Muslera was also banned and replaced by Martin Silva.
Within a somewhat troublesome position for Brazil in recent years, the South American giants were without the services of injured 19-year-old star Gabriel Jesus. When not a like-for-like replacement, Roberto Firmino started up prime amid the team’s run of six successive qualifying wins.
Brazil must have taken the lead right after just 4 minutes. A robust, surging run from Neymar starting on the halfway line saw Philippe Coutinho played via in the penalty region and a delightful delivery across the six-yard box only required a touch but Firmino fluffed his lines with an open purpose at his mercy.
Uruguay breathed a sigh of relief and after that broke the deadlock themselves from the spot within the ninth minute. Alisson – struggling for game time at Roma – conceded a penalty for bringing down Cavani immediately after a careless back pass from Marcelo, who attempted to chest the ball down towards the goalkeeper. There was only going to become one outcome as Cavani converted emphatically for his sixth purpose in five international appearances.
The match continued to reside as much as the pre-game hype as Brazil drew level due to a wonder aim from Paulinho after 19 minutes. The Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao midfielder took one touch prior to unleashing a rocket of a shot into the best corner on the net.
Neymar was lively all through the very first half, gliding past opponents with ease but it was Uruguay who virtually headed into the half-time break with a lead following Matias Vecino’s header flashed just wide on the far post.
Brazil stormed out of your blocks inside the second half as they claimed the lead inside the 52nd minute. Firmino turned and forced Silva into a low diving save in the best in the location but Paulinho was on hand to tuck away the rebound.
In the other end, Cavani came close to levelling proceedings but his free-kick was pushed away by Alisson just previous the hour-mark.
And as Uruguay committed numbers forward, they were exposed in defence as Neymar produced a beautiful chip more than the onrushing Silva before Paulinho completed his three-goal haul late within the game to determine Brazil to their fourth consecutive qualifying victory away from home.
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