VIENNA: Neymar proved himself restored to fitness and full confidence with a superbly delicate goal as five-times World Cup-holders Brazil beat Austria 3-0 n a Vienna in a warm-up for the imminent 2018 finals in Russia.
Gabriel Jesus and Philippe Coutinho scored the other goals with Neymar starting a game for the first time since injuring a metatarsal in February; he had played in the second half of last week’s win 2-0 over Croatia when he celebrated his return with a goal.
His goal was sublime as he left one defender on the ground before scoring between goalkeeper Heinz Lindner’s legs.
It was also the first time the quartet of Neymar, Jesus, Coutinho and Willian had started a game together.
Austria, unbeaten in their last eight games and winners over Germany one week ago, proved uncomfortable opponents and had nothing to lose in front of a capacity 48,500 crowd, having failed to qualify for the World Cup.
Neymar, substituted in the 83rd minute, was on the receiving end of some rough challenges and needed treatment after a tackle from behind from Aleksandar Dragovic who was booked.
Brazil coach Tite said: “This was another example that, mentally, we are maturing. It was a difficult match, with heavy physical contact and we did really well.”
Brazil, who have won all four games this year without conceding a goal, also face Costa Rica and Serbia in Group E.
They will head to Russia in confident mood, having lost only one out of 21 games — a friendly against Argentina — in Tite’s two years in charge.