EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Brazilian youngsters Neymar and Alexandre Pato scored first-half goals as Brazil defeated the United States 2-0 at the New Meadowlands Stadium on Tuesday night in the first match for both nations since the 2010 World Cup.
The 18-year-old Neymar scored his first international goal on his debut for Brazil and proved one of the highlights of a young, new-look Brazilian squad which put on a flashy but efficient display.
Few would have guessed that Neymar’s goal would have come on a header as the 5-foot-8 winger nodded home a cross from overlapping left back André Santos in the 28th minute.
Four minutes later, Pato thought he had doubled Brazil’s lead, but the referee called for an infringement on the AC Milan forward after he barreled into US goalkeeper Tim Howard to force the ball over the goal line.
Pato would not to be denied in first-half stoppage time, as he ran unmarked onto a through ball from Chelsea transfer target Ramires. The Brazilian forward sidestepped Howard and easily deposited the ball into the back of the net.
It had been the US who started the match strong for a change after being criticized for giving up early goals during the World Cup.
After two minutes, the Galaxy forward duo of Edson Buddle and Landon Donovan connected, but the LA captain was expertly nudged off the ball in the Brazilian penalty area by central defender Thiago Silva. Donovan’s appeal for a penalty kick was ignored by Canadian referee Silviu Petrescu.
The Americans would only prove dangerous on set pieces for the rest of the opening half as Brazil found their rhythm and held the majority of possession. The South Americans took advantage of US turnovers and moved easily upfield with their attacking players often switching positions and making it difficult for US defenders to track them.
Things did not improve for the US after the break despite the insertion of fresh legs to start the second half. Pato had an early chance seconds after the restart but struck the side netting. The ball was zigzagging from one side to another in the US box in the 53rd minute before Brazilian captain Robinho placed a low shot which struck the base of the left post.
Neymar gave the fans one more highlight play before coming off to a rousing applause in the 72nd minute. US reserve goalkeeper Brad Guzan denied him a second goal as he stopped his point-blank shot on a deadly counterattack.
As the Brazilian fans in the near-sellout crowd of more than 77,000 celebrated and did the wave toward the end of the match, 20-year-old midfield debutant Paulo Henrique Ganso struck the left post on a left-footed blast in the 78th minute which had Guzan beat. Just minutes later, the Aston Villa goalkeeper came up big again in stopping another point-blank shot by a wide open Carlos Eduardo from 10 yards out.
The US rarely threatened in the second half. On the heels of a 57th-minute set piece, US midfielder Michael Bradley headed home from an offside position on a cross from Sacha Kljestan. Second-half substitute Herculez Gomez also had a header of his own five minutes from time which Brazilian netminder Victor deflected for a corner kick.
The result was an eighth consecutive defeat for the USA at the hands of Brazil. The Seleção, which gave Mano Menezes a win in his Brazil managerial debut, have defeated the Americans in 15 of 16 matches in the all-time series including exhibitions and official competitions.
BRA - Neymar, 28’
BRA - Pato, 45+’
BRA – David Luiz, 70’
USA: Tim Howard (Brad Guzan 46'), Jonathan Spector, Omar Gonzalez, Carlos Bocanegra (C) (Clarence Goodson 61'), Jonathan Bornstein, Alejandro Bedoya (Herculez Gomez 66'), Michael Bradley, Maurice Edu, Benny Feilhaber (Sacha Kljestan 46'), Landon Donovan (Robbie Findley 62'), Edson Buddle (Jozy Altidore 46').
Brazil: Victor, Dani Alves, Thiago Silva, David Luiz, André Santos, Ramires (Hernanes 60'), Lucas Leiva, Paulo Henrique Ganso (Jucilei 89'), Robinho (C) (Diego Tardelli 81'), Alexandre Pato (André 67'), Neymar (Ederson 72', Carlos Eduardo 75')
Referee: Silviu Petrescu (CAN)
Assistant Referees: Joe Fletcher (CAN), Daniel Belleau (CAN)
Fourth Official: Mark Geiger (USA)