Football: Brazil, missing Neymar, brush World Cup hosts Russia aside

Russia's Roman Zobnin (right) in action against Brazil's Dani Alves during the International Friendly soccer match between Russia and Brazil at Luzhniki stadium in Moscow, Russia, on March 23, 2018.
Russia's Roman Zobnin (right) in action against Brazil's Dani Alves during the International Friendly soccer match between Russia and Brazil at Luzhniki stadium in Moscow, Russia, on March 23, 2018. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

MOSCOW (AFP) - Five-time world champions Brazil showed no signs of missing Neymar as they fine-tuned preparations for this year's World Cup with a confident 3-0 victory over tournament hosts Russia on Friday (March 23).

Inter Milan full-back Miranda scored the opener while Barcelona midfielder pair Philippe Coutinho and Paulinho scored one apiece at Moscow's renovated Luzhniki stadium where the World Cup final will be played.

Brazil, who were without injured superstar Neymar, started brightly and in the fifth minute Dani Alves lobbed the ball into the area to Gabriel Jesus but the Manchester City striker shot straight at Russia's goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev.

Brazil dominated play and possession, but failed to create any more serious chances before the break as Russia defended in numbers.

Russian winger Alexander Samedov tested Alisson with a shot from 20 yards out just after the half-hour mark, but Brazil's Roma 'keeper palmed the ball away for a corner.

Alexei Miranchuk also had a chance for an opener five minutes later, but his powerful close-range angled shot rifled over the crossbar.

Two minutes after the interval Willian found the unmarked Paulinho in the area, but Akinfeev parried his low close-range shot.

Miranda finally put Brazil team into the lead when he fired home a 53rd-minute goal, knocking in a rebound from Akinfeev off a Thiago Silva header.

Brazil continued testing the home team's defence and nine minutes later Coutinho made it 2-0 for the visitors with a penalty after Alexander Golovin fouled Paulinho in the area.

Paulinho rounded off the scoring in the 67th minute with a five-yard header off a pinpoint cross by Willian from the right.