Saudi Arabia 0 Brazil 2: Neymar and Jesus star in straightforward win
Neymar and Gabriel Jesus caught the eye as Brazil claimed a 2-0 friendly win over 10-man Saudi Arabia in Riyadh on Friday.
Jesus, who endured a difficult World Cup, was making his first post-Russia 2018 appearance and he looked particularly sharp as he opened the scoring, before Alex Sandro rounded things off in stoppage time.
An entertaining first half, which was full of flamboyancy from both teams, culminated in Neymar setting the Manchester City star up for his 11th senior international goal in the 43rd minute.
The hosts failed to build on first-half promise after the break and Brazil were completely dominant, eventually adding to the score with an Alex Sandro header after goalkeeper Mohammed Al Owais' red card for handling outside the area.
It did not take Brazil long to establish control and they crafted several half chances, before Al Owais made a fine acrobatic save to palm Jesus' headed flick-on over in the 26th minute.
But Al Owais was beaten on the stroke of half-time when Jesus raced onto Neymar's throughball and found the net.
Lucas Moura – introduced at half-time for his first Brazil appearance since June 2016 – should have swiftly made it 2-0, but he shot straight at Al Owais after an incisive pass from Neymar, who hit the post from 25 yards in the 55th minute.
Al Owais' fine performance was ruined five minutes from time when he was dismissed following a VAR review for handling Richarlison's shot outside the area following a weak back pass, and Alex Sandro rounded the win off by heading in Neymar's corner for his first Selecao goal in the 96th minute.
Foto: Lucas Figueiredo/CBF pic.twitter.com/dX9aL5DDeu
— CBF Futebol (@CBF_Futebol) October 12, 2018
What it means: Neymar and Jesus connecting again
Neymar's World Cup performances left a lot to be desired, and former Brazil coach Mano Menezes even suggested Jesus' woes in Russia were down to the Paris Saint-Germain star. In Riyadh, however, they worked – and impressed – in tandem, combining on eight occasions.
Having come in for significant criticism after a lacklustre World Cup, Jesus looked close to his best again on Friday. Back in the Selecao's number nine shirt, he confidently showcased his trickery to dance past defenders and got himself a deserved goal.
Fred fails to sparkle
Fred has struggled to make much of an impact at Manchester United and this was a chance for him to display his best qualities around more familiar faces. But the midfielder was guilty of overplaying and misplacing passes before his half-time withdrawal.
Essentially the main reason for this mini tournament was the clash between Argentina and Brazil on Tuesday, the day after Saudi Arabia and Iraq play each other.