FIFA Confederations Cup: Brazil 3 Japan 0
By Football News
Brazil opened their FIFA Confederations Cup in fine style, beating Japan 3-0 at the Estadio Nacional Mane Garrincha on Saturday.
A stunning volley from Neymar got the tournament under way perfectly for the hosts, looking for their third consecutive Confederations Cup title, and Paulinho lashed a second home quickly after the break.
Substitute Jo wrapped up the victory in stoppage time, running onto an excellent Oscar through ball, and finishing with aplomb.
Goal-line technology has been introduced for the tournament, but was not required in the opener, with no high-profile incidents thrown up.
Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari stuck with the side that beat France 3-0 in a friendly on Sunday, with his 4-2-3-1 system seeing the likes of Neymar, Oscar and Hulk playing supporting roles to central forward Fred.
Japan adopted the same formation, with Keisuke Honda and Shinji Okazaki swapping roles in a fluid set-up.
In front of a near sell-out crowd in Brasilia, FIFA president Sepp Blatter was booed throughout a short pre-match speech but their disapproval soon turned into a roar before kick-off with a stirring rendition of the Brazilian national anthem.
And Neymar got the hosts off to the best of starts as Marcelo's cross-field ball from the left was chested down by Fred and thumped home on the volley by the Barcelona new-boy, for his 21st international goal.
Japan were not disheartened and Honda stung the palms of Julio Cesar with a dipping free-kick and the CSKA Moscow player blazed another effort over soon after from close-range. Honda, operating as a deep-lying striker, was proving to be a good outlet for Japan and once again went close in the 19th minute, cutting inside Chelsea's David Luiz before scuffing a right-footed shot that Cesar gathered after fumbling initially.
Brazil were getting plenty of joy in the wide areas and Eiji Kawashima was called into a great stop to prevent Hulk scoring before the ball ran to Paulinho, but Atsuto Uchida flung himself in front of the effort.
Hulk was in dangerous form, always looking for goal when on the ball, and went close in the last five minutes of the first half, darting past Yuto Nagatomo before firing an effort that flew just past Kawashima's near pot and into the side-netting.
The Standard Liege shot-stopper was once again called into action just before the break, denying Fred after Neymar had sparked a lightning-quick break down the left flank.
The hosts' great start to the first half was replicated in the second as, just three minutes after half-time, Dani Alves fired a low cross from right that Paulinho instantly controlled before smashing a low effort past Kawashima for the second, who could not get down to the effort quickly enough.
Once again Japan responded well and Okazaki turned a sharp chance wide under pressure from Luiz, after Uchida's measured cross from the right.
Brazil's domination largely continued and Neymar sparkled with neat tricks and flicks, but Japan continued to threaten intermittently.
Honda once again was at the heart of things. His 30-yard free-kick hit the wall but he followed through to block Luiz's clearance, with the ball spilling back into the area, eventually dropping onto substitute Ryoichi Maeda's left foot, with a crashed effort well held by Cesar.
There was still time for Brazil to score a third though, as they hit Japan on the break in the dying stages. Oscar burst down the left and picked out Jo, with the former Manchester City forward doing the rest, slotting through Kawashima's legs, as Brazil laid down a strong marker to the rest of the tournament's front runners with a comprehensive victory.