Brazillian playmaker, Neymar Junior celebrates after scoring his penalty
Goals from Gabriel Jesus and Willian provided a comfortable 2-0 victory for Brazil over Venezuela in CONMEBOL qualifying for the 2018 World Cup at the Estadio Metropolitano de Merida.
Entering Tuesday night just one point behind first-place Uruguay in South American qualifying, Brazil was without one of its biggest stars in Neymar, who was suspended after being booked last week against Bolivia.
Luckily for the Canarinho, it was playing a Venezuela side that collected just two points from its first nine matches in qualifying with a dismal goal difference of minus-15.
Brazil wasted no time getting on the board, taking full advantage of a Venezuelan miscue at the back eight minutes in.
Upon getting possession, Venezuela goalkeeper Daniel Hernandez attempted to pass the ball to a defender, but it was intercepted by Jesus, who was alone with the hosts’ last line of defense.
With his first touch, the 19-year-old—who will join Manchester City in January—chipped the ‘keeper and put Brazil up 1-0.
While Brazil would continue to pressure the Venezuelan defense, it would not find a second in the first half despite attempting seven shots.
In the 53rd minute, Willian finally doubled the Brazilian’s lead when he finished off a low cross sent in by Renato Augusto that meandered to the right of the Venezuelan six-yard box.
At an incredibly tough angle, the Chelsea man was able to guide his shot just inside the left post.
With the game already in hand, the only thing that delayed Brazil from closing out its win would be the electricity, which caused a short delay.
The three points propelled Brazil into first place in World Cup qualifying after Uruguay drew with Colombia earlier on Tuesday.
It was imperative that the Selecao did get a maximum of three points because its next qualifying match comes against an Argentina side that will surely have Lionel Messi back from injury.
Brazil will be able to counter that with the return of Neymar as it has an opportunity to strike a fatal blow to Argentina’s qualifying hopes after La Albiceleste lost to Paraguay on Tuesday.