International friendlies - Fans jeer as Brazil stutter to victory in final outing before World Cup

International friendly, Estadio do Morumbi – Brazil 1 (Fred 58) Serbia 0

Eurosport
World Cup - Three strive for second behind unbackable Brazil
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Brazil's Fred (R) celebrates with teammates Hulk (L) and Paulinho (C) after scoring a goal against Serbia (Reuters)

Brazil laboured to an undeserved 1-0 victory over Serbia on a derisory pitch in Sao Paulo in their last match before the World Cup gets underway.

Serbia failed to punish a woeful first-half display from their illustrious hosts, spurning a spree of openings as Brazil left the field to a chorus of boos.

The home side marginally improved after the restart and took the lead when Fred expertly chest-controlled Thiago Silva’s cross and poked home.

It was a rare highlight in a disjointed second period, not helped by tricky conditions and a greasy surface, although Hulk was wrongly denied a second goal by the offside flag.

Serbia tried to restore parity and fashioned a couple of half-chances as the game wore on, but the Brazilian defence managed to hold on despite looking alarmingly suspect.

Brazil face Croatia in the World Cup opener on June 12 before games against Mexico and Cameroon in Group A.

KEY MOMENTS

PRE-MATCH – NEYMAR STARTS. Neymar, Fred and Hulk all start for Brazil. Will this be the side that takes to the pitch against Croatia?

7’ – CHANCE! Kolarov floats through the Brazilian defence before firing at goal. The net ripples… But it’s the side netting. Poor communication from the hosts.

30’ – CHANCE! The Brazilian defence goes missing as two Serbian players pop up inside their penalty area. It’s fired across the face of goal but Luiz, instead of clearing, whacks it against his own keeper and watches with trepidation as the ball flies just wide.

31’ – CHANCE! Mitrovic rises, unmarked, inside the penalty area but somehow sends his header wide of the post. Awful effort. Serbia should be one up. At least.

45’ – HALF-TIME BOOS! After 45 minutes of near-silence, the crowd unite to boo a woeful first-half from their side. Serbia – a side who failed to qualify for Brazil 2014 – have outplayed the World Cup favourites.

58’ – GOAL! Brazil 1-0 Serbia. Fred controls Silva’s cross with his chest, slips over and pokes home. Rather embarrassing for Ivanovic who was all over the place. That’s got the crowd on their feet.

71’ – POST! Serbia display some neat touches. It’s whipped into Jolic… Outside of the post! Alves at fault.

73’ – CHANCE! Markovic weaves through the Brazilian defence, cuts onto his right foot and shoots… Cesar gets down to save.

74’ – DISALLOWED GOAL! Hulk breaks through the Serbian offside trap and delicately chips the onrushing keeper. He wheels away in delight, waving his arms to a crowd all too aware of the linesman’s flag in the background. Awkward.

90+2’ – DEBUT SAVE! Jo crashes a header at goal but substitute keeper and Serbian debutant Lukac makes a wonderful save. That’s one to tell the grandkids.

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KEY STATS

Brazil are now on a 9-match winning streak, most of all teams at the 2014 World Cup. (Infostrada)

TALKING POINT

Should Brazil be favourites for the World Cup? Brazil impressed in the Confederations Cup last year, but tonight’s performance was utterly ordinary. It might only be a friendly, but you can bet Argentina, Spain and the rest are buoyed by this result.

MATCHCAST: FULL COMMETARY AND STATS

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MAN OF THE MATCH

Lazar Markovic (Serbia): Profligate at times, but the Serbian caused the Brazilian defence all sorts of problems. Expect to see the Benfica man crop up in various transfer stories this summer.

PLAYER RATINGS

Brazil: Cesar 6, Alves 5, Luiz 5, Silva 6, Marcelo 6, Luiz Gustavo 6, Paulinho 5, Oscar 5, Hulk 6, Neymar 6, Fred 6.

Serbia: Stojkovic 6, Tosic 7, Ivanovic 5, Petrovic 6, Tadic 6, Kolarov 7, Matic 6, Jojic 6, Basta 6, Mitrovic 6, Markovic 7.

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