LONDON - Double World Cup winner and
tournament top scorer Ronaldo was the guest of honour at Emirates Stadium on Sunday and must have left the ground happy to see
Brazil's striking abilities propagated by a new generation.
With Ronaldinho seemingly out of favour with new coach Mano
Menezes and Alexandre Pato and Nilmar injured, the spotlight
fell on 19-year-old Neymar, making his third appearance,
21-year-old debutant Leandro Damiao and 18-year-old Lucas, who
also won his first cap when he came off the bench for the final
None of them disappointed as Brazil overwhelmed Scotland in
a 2-0 win where a 6-0 scoreline would not have flattered them.
Neymar and Lucas ran riot in last month's South American
under-20 championship, with the former scoring nine goals and
the latter four, while Leandro Damiao's 13 goals for
Internacional made an irresistible case for a call-up.
All three showed enough of their talents on Sunday to
suggest they could be a key trio when Brazil host the World Cup
in 2014, desperate to make amends for their meek quarter-final
exit at the hands of Netherlands last year.
Leandro Damiao provides an option not often used by the
Brazilians as he is great in the air and, already tall, has a
prodigious leap. He grazed the bar with an early header from a
corner and was a regular target for his side's deep crosses.
Lucas had a short window to make an impact but managed to do
so with two superb slaloming runs reminiscent of Lionel Messi.
But it was Neymar, reportedly a transfer target for Chelsea,
who stole the show.
With a 10cm Mohican haircut, lime green and purple patent
boots and tricky footwork he was an obvious target for the
Scotland fans but their jeers were further fuelled by his
theatrical response every time he was tackled.
With his tiny frame and his white socks pulled up above his
knees he looked like a schoolboy who had accidentally wandered
on to the seniors' pitch.
But he proved he was there on merit three minutes before
halftime when he collected a pass from Andre Santos and, with
calmness and precision, stroked the ball into the corner.
He had scored on his Brazil debut against the United States
last year and duly made it three goals in three games with a
77th-minute penalty after another dummy led to Charlie Adam
tripping him in the box.
"When you have new strikers, especially one of them playing
for the first time, it's a risk but the team played well and
that gave them the security to play their game and it was a good
start for them," Menezes said.
"What we saw today confirmed what we'd seen in the under-20
team. The injuries accelerated their introduction but we don't
want to do everything at once.
"Brazilian football has a lot of players you can bring in
and expect a good performance but it was still a surprise (how
well they did) given their lack of experience."
Menezes said he would be disappointed for the home fans if
Neymar were to move to the Premier League but that it would
probably be good for the player.
"His talent isn't going to disappear and that would give him
more strength and allow him to escape markers better. It would
be good for his development," he said.
Having lost friendlies to Argentina and France, Menezes said
it was important for his team to get back to winning ways.
"We are building a team and when you are changing things
maybe you won't win all the games," he said.
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