Neymar’s Curtain Raiser Delights Scolari, Brazil Thrashed Japan 3-0.

Neymar.
Neymar.

After switching squad number to 10, previously won by the great Pele, Neymar ensured he made everything count last night when hosts, Brazil, took on Asian champions Japan in the opening game of the Confederations Cup at the Estadio Nacional in Brasilia. The newly-recruited Barcelona forward shot into the top corner in the third minute after connecting with a Fred knockdown on the edge of the area. Paulinho made it 2-0 in the 48th minute from a Dani Alves’ cross before Oscar sent substitute Jo running clear to add a third goal in added time. The Confederation Cup is the first major tournament to be staged in Brazil since the 1950 World Cup and with less than a year to go, the eccentric combination of Yellow and Green donned by ecstatic fans at the Estadio Nacional was a prove that Brazilians are rearing to go. Going into their first competitive fixtures in 23 months, Luis Felipe Scolari knew he needed a win to lift off the pressure, as his side had only won two of their previous nine games. And Neymar’s blistering shot, after just two minutes and 53 seconds effectively relieved the tension. Scolari later admitted he had been delighted by the response of the 21-year-old, who has been struggling to cope with the immense weight of expectation. “There are sometimes games when he might not be at his best but Neymar is a star. He makes a difference to the team and he will always do that,” Scolari said. Scolari also warned against complacency ahead of Wednesday’s match against CONCACAF champions Mexico in Fortaleza. “We must beware of Mexico and get over the next hurdle to reach the semi-final. Mexico have been making life complicated for us for a few years now,” he added.