Brazil in control, Gabriel Jesus proud to wear No. 9

Brazil's Gabriel Jesus ringing in the applause after scoring against Peru. After a stuttering start, they are favourites to qualify.
Brazil's Gabriel Jesus ringing in the applause after scoring against Peru. After a stuttering start, they are favourites to qualify.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LIMA • An outstanding performance from Gabriel Jesus helped Brazil to a 2-0 win over Peru and moved the five-time World Cup football winners four points clear at the top of the South American qualifying group for the 2018 World Cup Finals in Russia.

Two second-half goals - with Manchester City-bound Gabriel scoring the first and setting up the second for Renato Augusto - gave Brazil full points in Lima against a home team who played well but for no reward.

"I am working hard, quietly, hoping to help my team-mates on the pitch," the 19-year old striker told TV Globo after the game.

"There are lot of players in Brazil who can wear the No. 9 but I am proud that I have this opportunity. I am proud to be honouring the shirt."

Peru had never beaten Brazil in 10 previous World Cup qualifying matches but they took the game to their more illustrious visitors and were unlucky to come up against two clinical finishers.

Gabriel, who will join City from Palmeiras in January, got the first goal 12 minutes into the second half when the ball fell kindly to him to hammer home.

He turned provider 21 minutes later, laying the ball off to Renato Augusto in space and the Beijing Guoan midfielder made no mistake.

The result was a trifle harsh on Peru, who hit the post early on and were not overawed, particularly in an even first half.

The result also marked the first time since 1969 that Brazil have won six consecutive qualifying matches for the same tournament.

Brazil coach Tite, who was appointed in June, was ecstatic after the match.

"I didn't expect all of this and I have to thank God," he said on fifa.com. "I don't know if I deserve it, but I'm very happy."

Brazil now lead the table with 27 points from 12 games, while second-placed Uruguay lost in Chile.

The top four teams qualify automatically for Russia 2018 and the fifth-placed side goes into a play-off with a team from Oceania.

In Tuesday's earlier games, Ecuador beat Venezuela 3-0 to stay in third (20 points) ahead of Chile on goal difference, while a late own goal from Gustavo Gomez lifted Bolivia off the bottom with a 1-0 win over Paraguay in La Paz.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 17, 2016, with the headline 'Brazil in control, Gabriel Jesus proud to wear No. 9'. Print Edition | Subscribe