Brazil earn first win in six games, Messi salvages draw

`Brazil's Lucas Paqueta stooping to head in the opening goal against South Korea, whose goalkeeper Jo Hyeon-woo could do little to prevent the goal. Brazil won 3-0 at the Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi. PHOTO: REUTERS
`Brazil's Lucas Paqueta stooping to head in the opening goal against South Korea, whose goalkeeper Jo Hyeon-woo could do little to prevent the goal. Brazil won 3-0 at the Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi. PHOTO: REUTERS

ABU DHABI • Since beating Peru 3-1 to win the Copa America in July, Brazil have gone on a downward spiral with two defeats and three draws in five friendly matches, leading their coach Tite to admit that the team are under pressure to end their winless streak.

But the five-time world champions can breathe easier now, after finally halting their poor run yesterday with a 3-0 victory over South Korea in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

AC Milan's 22-year-old midfielder Lucas Paqueta, wearing the iconic No. 10 Selecao jersey in the absence of Neymar, calmed their nerves when he found the net in the ninth minute with a header for his second international goal.

Barcelona's Philippe Coutinho, now on loan at Bayern Munich, topped the opener with a superbly taken free kick that flew into the top left corner nine minutes before the break.

Juventus right-back Danilo then added gloss to the scoreline in the 60th minute by smashing the ball home with a first-time effort from outside the box, sealing the victory in their sixth friendly since July.

They also ended the Koreans' unbeaten run of nine - five wins and four draws dating back to March.

Brazil will not play again until the South American zone World Cup qualifiers in March.

Before yesterday, Brazil had lost to a Lionel Messi goal in their 1-0 defeat by Argentina in Saudi Arabia last Friday.

The Argentina captain scored again on Monday with an added-time penalty to salvage a 2-2 draw with Uruguay, as they twice came from behind in an entertaining friendly match in Israel.

BEST IN A WHILE

At the level of results, we are fine. At the level of the game, it can be improved. The team feeling is the best we have. The important thing is that the players who play do it well. Some make a difference and others support.

LIONEL SCALONI, Argentina coach.

Argentina, now unbeaten in six games since a disappointing Copa America in which they finished third, had the better of the early play but fell behind in the 34th minute when Edinson Cavani stabbed home from close range.

The crowd in Tel Aviv cheered Messi throughout and he helped pull his team level in the 63rd minute when his free kick was nodded home by Sergio Aguero to put a positive sheen on the scoreline.

Messi's Barcelona teammate Luis Suarez gave Uruguay the lead again in the 69th when he scored with a powerful 20m free kick that flew past goalkeeper Esteban Andrada.

But the last word went to Messi, who made no mistake by coolly side-footing home from the spot.

"At the level of results, we are fine. At the level of the game, it can be improved," said Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni. "The team feeling is the best we have. The important thing is that the players who play do it well. Some make a difference and others support.

"Now we have to think about what we did well and what we can correct. What is coming (the World Cup qualifying campaign) is difficult. But we have a good base."

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 20, 2019, with the headline 'Brazil earn first win in six games, Messi salvages draw'. Print Edition | Subscribe