Mar 27, 2011

Nifty Neymar punishes Scots

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The 19-year-old stole the show as the Samba stars made easy work of battling Scotland.

Brazil bossed the first half without getting their reward until the Santos youngster superbly curled home the opener shortly before half-time.

And he doubled their advantage after the break by winning and converting a 77th minute penalty.

It was no disgrace for Craig Levein's side who worked hard throughout but ultimately failed to bridge the gulf in class between the two countries.

And it left Scotland still looking for their elusive first win over Brazil.

The Scots had not beaten Brazil in nine previous encounters and there was little chance of ending that record in North London as they chased the ball almost from the first whistle.

There was a lively atmosphere in the ground before kick-off which was helped by the appearance beforehand of Brazil legend Ronaldo as guest of honour.

Scotland had an early opportunity when Kenny Miller, captain for the day, was fouled by Brazil defender Lucio 30 yards from goal but Charlie Adam's free-kick cannoned off the defensive wall.

The Scots were encouraged but midfielders James McArthur and Adam were guilty of some slackness with their passing which went unpunished.

However, Brazil slowly warmed to the task, showing little glimpses of their trademark fluidity going forward and in the 15th minute Chelsea midfielder Ramires rose high at the back post but could only head over from Elano's cross.

As the famous yellow shirts turned the screw, Jadson's low drive was parried by Allan McGregor before the Scots defence scrambled the ball to safety and then Leandro Damiao skimmed the bar with a header from Elano's corner.

Scotland were chasing the game as Brazil moved up the gears and Leandro had another chance from an Elano cross but this time headed wide.

Levein's side escaped again in the 27th minute when Lucas Leiva and Elano combined down the right and the Liverpool player's cut-back took the combination of McGregor and defender Gary Caldwell to clear, with the latter maybe helped by the use of an arm.

Scotland came close for the first time in the 35th minute when a wonderful whipped in free-kick by Adam was met by Steven Whittaker whose header sped past the far post.

However, Brazil's expected goal arrived four minutes from the break when Neymar took a pass from Andre Santos inside the Scotland box and ignored the attention of Caldwell to almost casually fire past McGregor and in to the far corner.

Neymar started the second half as positively as he had finished the first and there were less than two minutes played when he unleashed a drive from distance which clipped the bar on the way over.

From the goal-kick McGregor put McArthur in trouble and the Rangers keeper had to make amends, diving to take the ball away from Neymar's toes before blocking Leandro's close-range shot.

Scotland were cut open again in the 52nd minute but Ramires blasted over from inside the box after taking a pass from overlapping full-back Dani Alves.

Another Elano corner was headed past the post by Leandro on the hour mark by which time Brazil had the game even more firmly in control.

There was a big cheer from the Tartan Army in the 63rd minute when Scotland won their first corner but Adam's disappointing effort was easily cleared, before Kris Commons came on for Whittaker.

The introduction of the Celtic wide man momentarily fired up Scotland and re-energised the Scots' fans.

But in the 76th minute a clumsy challenge by Adam on Neymar saw referee Howard Webb point to the spot and the striker sent McGregor the wrong way with the well-taken penalty.

Then, as Scotland defended some more, the ball appeared to strike the hand of Caldwell again as he tried to block a shot from Santos but Webb shook his head.

Two minutes from the end, after Brown was fouled by substitute Elias 30 yards from goal, Commons' free-kick was comfortably saved by Julio Cesar and any hope of a consolation was gone, although there was still time for Brazil substitute Jonas to miss a sitter.



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