Belfast Telegraph

World Cup 2018

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Neymar lights up Anfield with a glorious strike on Brazil return

Brazil 2-0 Croatia

By Paul Burrows

Neymar marked his return from a knee injury in spectacular fashion as Brazil beat Croatia 2-0 in a friendly at Anfield.

The Paris St Germain star produced a stunning individual effort in the 68th minute of his first outing since he fractured his metatarsal playing for Paris St Germain in February.

And much to the delight of the home support, Liverpool playmaker Roberto Firmino added the second in added time.

Neymar had started on the bench, but there was a start for former Liverpool star Philippe Coutinho on his return to Anfield.

It was the Croatians, limbering up for a tough group involving Argentina, Nigeria and Iceland, who threatened first but an Ante Rebic chance was snuffed out by Thiago Silva. Also playing on home soil, Croatian defender Dejan Lovren came close to snatching the lead when he headed over from a corner.

Neymar's introduction added urgency to the Brazilian forward line which increased when Firmino replaced Gabriel Jesus.

And Neymar broke the deadlock in style when he was fed by Coutinho on the left and drifted inside, beating Sime Vrsaljko before lashing the ball home off the crossbar.

Chances remained at a premium in what, Neymar apart, was proving a low-key encounter, with both sides evidently having their minds on other things.

But there was the finish the home fans wanted deep in stoppage time when Firmino met Casemiro's lofted cross and chipped home with a beautiful finish.

Belfast Telegraph

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