Brazil dial into Tite's sequence of victories

From top: Brazil's Neymar (centre) celebrating with team-mates Philippe Coutinho (left) and Gabriel Jesus after scoring against Argentina in first-half stoppage time. Neymar slotting the ball past Argentina goalkeeper Sergio Romero during the World C
Brazil's Neymar (centre) celebrating with team-mates Philippe Coutinho (left) and Gabriel Jesus after scoring against Argentina in first-half stoppage time.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
From top: Brazil's Neymar (centre) celebrating with team-mates Philippe Coutinho (left) and Gabriel Jesus after scoring against Argentina in first-half stoppage time. Neymar slotting the ball past Argentina goalkeeper Sergio Romero during the World C
Neymar slotting the ball past Argentina goalkeeper Sergio Romero during the World Cup qualifier at Belo Horizonte. It was his 50th international goal in 74 appearances.PHOTO: REUTERS
From top: Brazil's Neymar (centre) celebrating with team-mates Philippe Coutinho (left) and Gabriel Jesus after scoring against Argentina in first-half stoppage time. Neymar slotting the ball past Argentina goalkeeper Sergio Romero during the World C
Coutinho opening the Selecao's account in the 25th minute.PHOTO: REUTERS

Fifth straight qualifying win under new coach but Messi and Co. lie sixth in South America

SAO PAULO • Argentina coach Edgardo Bauza was unbowed after a 3-0 World Cup qualifying defeat by Brazil and a fourth game without a win. But he promised that his misfiring team still have their fate in their own hands.

"We still have a lot to do before the qualifiers end," he said after the rout in Belo Horizonte.

"We know that classification still depends on what we do. The game against Colombia will be different," he added of their match against the third-placed side next week.

Argentina are sixth in the 10-team South American group on 16 points after 11 games, with only the top four qualifying automatically for Russia 2018. The fifth-placed side face a play-off with the Oceania winners.

Bauza is likely to be heavily scrutinised after recording just one win in his five games in charge, while his players will also face questions after they were outshone by Brazil's three scorers - Neymar, Philippe Coutinho and Paulinho.

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  • Brazil's comprehensive dispatching of Argentina was their fifth successive win under Tite's watch, leaving the Selecao coach with a 100% winning record.

Argentina talisman Lionel Messi returned from three games out injured but was largely anonymous. And there was little of note from strikers Gonzalo Higuain or Angel di Maria.

Sergio Aguero replaced Enzo Perez at half-time but with Brazil dominant in the second period he had little chance to change the game.

"When they hit us hard we struggled to recover," Messi said.

"We are more than aware that we have to change a lot.

"Of all the bad points, the good one is that we depend on ourselves but we can't be giving away any more points."

Argentine sports newspaper Ole called the performance a "catastrophe" and in a headline classed the side's current predicament as "Russian Roulette".

Argentina have won the World Cup twice and reached the final of their last three major tournaments but have not won a senior title since the 1990s.

After taking on Colombia on Tuesday, they face Copa America champions Chile, who are fifth on the table on 17 points, in March.

For Brazil, the win was a remarkable fifth consecutive qualifying victory under new coach Tite, who took over following the sacking of Dunga in June after the Selecao's Copa America Centenario debacle.

Brazil failed to advance from the group stage of that tournament.

Tite dedicated his side's impressive win to Carlos Alberto, the captain of Brazil's 1970 World Cup-winning side, who died aged 72 from a heart attack last month. Brazil were playing for the first time since Alberto's death, and they blew their great rivals away in his honour.

"We dedicate this win to Carlos Alberto," Tite said.

"The start was better than I expected. I finished my pre-game speech with an image of Carlos Alberto's goal to show team spirit.

"We knew how to overcome suffering and improve in the match when Argentina played better. The team are growing every day.

"Argentina were better at times, they caused some problems and we had to reduce the amount of chances that Messi had to get the ball away from the area."

Brazil lie top of the table on 24 points after 11 games and will next travel to Peru on Tuesday.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 12, 2016, with the headline 'Brazil dial into Tite's sequence of victories'. Print Edition | Subscribe