GOIANIA - Brazil, hosts of the next World Cup, were held to a 0-0 draw by the Netherlands in a rare home friendly on Saturday, with both goalkeepers responsible for the deadlock.
The teams' first clash since the Dutch beat Brazil 2-1 in last year's World Cup quarter-finals became bad-tempered towards the end and Brazil's Ramires was sent off in the 79th minute for a second booking after a foul on Arjen Robben.
Playing with a three-pronged attack of Neymar and Robinho either side of centre-forward Fred, Brazil had a strong second half but could not get past inspired, debutant Dutch goalkeeper Tim Krul despite creating a number of good chances.
Fred, who squandered most of them including the finish to a good move orchestrated by Neymar on the left in the 57th, left the field to boos from the fans at the Serra Dourada stadium when he was replaced by the 21-year-old Leandro Damiao.
The Dutch, without injured Inter Milan playmaker Wesley Sneijder, who scored both their goals in the 2010 meeting, had two good chances in the first half with striker Ibrahim Affelay forcing two good saves from Brazilian keeper Julio Cesar.
"We had some normal difficulties in the first half, didn't manage to mark Affelay well and gave away good chances to Holland that obliged Julio to make two excellent saves," Brazil coach Mano Menezes told reporters.
The crowd booed when the teams came off at half-time but two good Neymar moves in less than five minutes after the break were enough to win back their support, though there were jeers again at the end.
"We improved a lot in the second half, were sharper with our marking... we created a high volume of play, very clear chances, the ball ran along the goal-line but didn't go in because football's like that," Menezes added.
"Our players were very tired and we couldn't play as well as in the first half. Brazil got stronger and stronger, and sometimes you have to play in defence," Netherlands coach Bert van Marwijk said.
"I think we were lucky and also had a great performance from our keeper, who was making his debut. In the end, a draw here against Brazil, for a small country like Holland, is not a bad result."
Since Menezes replaced Dunga as Brazil coach after the World Cup, Brazil had beaten the United States, Iran, Ukraine and Scotland but lost to major opponents Argentina and France. Saturday's match was Menezes' home debut.
Brazil are warming up for the Copa America in Argentina in July. They will host Romania on Tuesday in Sao Paulo in a match that also will be the official farewell game for former World Player of the Year Ronaldo.comments