SAO PAULO • Brazil's march towards the 2018 World Cup gathered pace on Tuesday with a Neymar-inspired 2-1 win over Colombia, as the five-time world champions registered their second consecutive win in the South American qualifying group.
The home side got off to the perfect start when Miranda rose after just 80 seconds to head home a corner and score his first goal in 33 appearances for the national side.
Brazil, playing just their second game under new coach Tite, dominated the first half with a high-pace pressing game.
But they struggled to make clear-cut chances and paid the price when Colombia equalised against the run of play in the 36th minute.
James Rodriguez floated in a free kick from 35 yards out and Brazilian defender Marquinhos headed the ball into his own net.
But it was Neymar who scored the winner with 73 minutes gone when his angled drive was well placed into the far corner to beat Colombian goalkeeper David Ospina.
It was his 48th goal in 72 international games, taking the Barcelona striker level with Zico on Brazil's all-time scoring list.
Only Pele (77), Ronaldo (62) and Romario (55) have scored more.
The result in the humid heat of Manaus marked the first time that Brazil have won two straight games in what has until recently been a stuttering qualifying campaign.
"We've been very consistent the last two games," said goalkeeper Alisson. "We've become tougher and we deserve congratulations for taking the lead again after they pegged us back. We reacted well."
The result lifts Brazil to second place on 15 points but only on goal difference ahead of Argentina, who came from behind to draw 2-2 against bottom-placed team Venezuela.
Nicolas Otamendi scored a late equaliser as Argentina fought back from 0-2 down to snatch a point against the Venezuelans.
The Manchester City defender popped up in the 83rd minute to steer home a corner by Angel di Maria to complete a dramatic turnaround by the Argentinians.
Otamendi's equaliser came after Lucas Pratto had pulled a goal back after goals from Juanpi Anor and Josef Martinez put Venezuela 2-0 up.
Argentina, missing their injured captain Lionel Messi, as well as Sergio Aguero, Gonzalo Higuain and Paulo Dybala, were always struggling to reproduce the sort of incisive form that accounted for Uruguay in last week's win.
Uruguay, however, still lead the group on 16 points after a 4-0 rout of Paraguay.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS