Brazil came from a goal behind to defeat Portugal 3-1 at the Gillette Stadium in Boston on Tuesday evening. The match began at an electric pace marked by end to end football and highly physical challenges that resulted in Brazil’s Neymar, in particular, finding himself on the receiving end of a series of tough tackles and an elbow to the face. Even though Portugal were missing Cristiano Ronaldo due to injury, they delivered an impressive first half in which they pressured Brazil and took advantage of Maxwell’s lack of international experience on Brazil’s left flank by whipping in dangerous crosses from the right side of the field.
Portugal’s persistence and positive attitude paid off in the 18th minute when Raul Meireles slotted the ball into the back of the net after a failed Maicon clearance, giving Paulo Bento’s team a 1-0 lead over the five time World Champions. Roughly five minutes later, Brazil captain Thiago Silva earned his second ever international goal after heading in the ball from a Neymar corner to even things up and sway the momentum of the match Brazil’s way for the first time since the opening whistle.
Posterboy Neymar scored a sensational solo goal in the 34th minute by picking up the ball outside of the box and running at the heart of the Portuguese defense despite being surrounded by five players. The Brazil number 10 maintained his balance within a flock of red Portuguese shirts and coolly dispatched the ball past the keeper’s right hand to make it 2-1 Brazil. Portugal managed to maintain their composure despite having conceded two goals in 10 minutes and continued to press the attack for the remainder of the first half with furious intensity.
Four minutes into the second half, Neymar fed Maxwell a pass on the left flank which the Paris-Saint Germain defender crossed to Jo, who tumbled the ball into the back of the net to Jo to make it 3-1 Brazil. Leading by two goals, Brazil reduced the intensity of their attack and brought on a bevy of substitutes including Oscar, Hernanes, Henrique, Lucas Moura and Alexandre Pato. Much of the remainder of the match became an exercise in Brazil defending against a determined and skillful Portugal team. Absent Ronaldo, Nani tried his hand at a number of free kick opportunities but invariably scuppered the ball over the crossbar. In the 78th minute, Nani missed another golden opportunity when Vierinha's cross was intercepted by a horizontal leap from Thiago Silva, whose header clearance ensured the scoreline stayed at 3-1.
Once again, Neymar stole the show for Brazil by assisting with one goal, scoring from a sensational solo effort and then proving instrumental in setting up Brazil’s third goal. Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari will be pleased that his team walked away from the match with a decisive result and impressive performance despite the absence of his favored fullbacks, Dani Alves and Marcelo. Jo continues his resurrection of form but the most memorable moment of the game will surely be Neymar’s brilliant solo goal that recalled the pace and composure of Diego Maradona and Lionel Messi.