underlined their position as favourites for Olympic gold when
they gave a masterful performance to complete a 2-0 win over
hosts Britain, who fielded a united team for the first time in
Brazil won the friendly with a header from Sandro and a
penalty from Neymar just five days before the London Games
football competition, which features an under-23 line-up with
three over-aged players, kicks off.
Brazil, seeking to win the Olympic title for the first time,
sent a powerful message of intent to the other 15 teams in the
competition with a silky display in their final warm-up before
"I am not worried about sending a message to the other
teams. My main concern tonight was to get my European-based
players, returning from holiday, back in the rhythm of the
team," Brazil coach Mano Menezes told reporters.
"That took maybe 20 minutes at the start, but then we
played very well for the rest of the half and the match."
On an unusually sunny summer's evening at the Riverside,
there was excitement that the Olympics was drawing closer with
the theme from "Chariots of Fire" reverberating around stadium
before kick-off and the unusual site of the Union Jack fluttering
in the breeze.
Britain struck gold in three out of four Games from 1900
but in recent years, fielding a Team GB has been blocked by the
Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland football associations amid
fears that they might lose their independent status within FIFA.
No British team took part in Olympic football since a
qualifying defeat to Bulgaria in May 1971 cost them a place in
the 1972 Munich Games but when London was awarded the Games, the
hosts were obliged to compete.
Friday's match was Britain's only warm-up before the start
of their Olympic campaign against Senegal at Old Trafford next
Judging on this performance though, coach Stuart Pearce has
plenty of work to do over the remaining few days if Britain are
going to come anywhere close to the golds they won in the far
simpler sporting times of 1900, 1908 and 1912.
Starting with seven Englishmen and four Welshmen including
captain Ryan Giggs, Britain looked uncomfortable on the ball and
far from a cohesive blend.
They allowed Brazil too much time and space on the ball, and
with players like Neymar facing them, that was a dangerous
tactic to pursue.
The opening goal came after a lack of communication in the
Britain defence, allowing Sandro, who plays in London for Spurs,
to loop in a header.
Neymar doubled the lead 10 minutes before the interval when
Hulk was tripped by Micah Richards and the 20-year-old striker
beat keeper Jason Steele from the spot.
Pearce said the performance proved that Brazil are the
favourites for gold.
"They are one of the outstanding international teams around
now, let alone Olympic teams or under 23 sides," Pearce said.
"This squad shows how seriously they are taking this
tournament, I think they are all internationals apart from their
goalie. “They are the team everyone will have to beat if you
want to win the gold medal."
As well as the attraction of Brazil and Britain that
attracted 24,721 to the ground, a few thousand were also present
to watch the afternoon match between Britain's women and Sweden
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