Japan 0-1 Brazil: Neymar penalty earns narrow win for Selecao in Tokyo

David Segar
Stats Perform
Neymar strokes home a penalty for Brazil against Japan
Neymar strokes home a penalty for Brazil against Japan

Brazil earned a 1-0 friendly win against Japan in Tokyo on Monday thanks to a penalty from Neymar.

Tite's side dominated for large periods in the pouring rain at the New Japan National Stadium and squandered several chances before Neymar's spot-kick finally broke the deadlock in the 77th minute.

The victory means the Selecao have won five consecutive games, and have not lost since July when they were beaten by Argentina in the Copa America final.

Both teams came into the came on the back of big wins last time out, with Japan thumping Paraguay 4-1 on Thursday, while Brazil went one better in beating South Korea 5-1 the same day.

Brazil almost took the lead inside two minutes as neat play between Vinicius Junior and Neymar ended with the latter backheeling to Lucas Paqueta, who hit the post after shooting across Shuichi Gonda in the Japan goal.

Japan had a brief period in the first half where they caused some problems for Tite's side, with Takumi Minamino getting some joy between the lines, but Brazil soon established their dominance as they created more chances.

Casemiro should have put the visitors ahead in the 26th minute but could only guide a header from a Raphinha free-kick over the crossbar, before Neymar had a shot parried away by Gonda and Raphinha bent a direct free-kick just wide of the left-hand post.

Gabriel Martinelli and Gabriel Jesus were introduced just after the hour and the Arsenal forward almost made an immediate impact, but could only guide his shot wide of the far post after the ball was cushioned down for him by Casemiro.

The hosts' only real chance of note came in the 72nd minute, when Junya Ito fired over with a volley at the far post.

Brazil were awarded a penalty shortly after when another substitute, Richarlison, was fouled by Wataru Endo and Neymar sent Gonda the wrong way from the spot to win it.

What does it mean? Brazil warming up nicely for Qatar

Japan showed with their emphatic win over Paraguay that they are no pushovers, and while the score here suggested a close game, in truth Brazil should have won by a more emphatic margin.

They had 21 shots, of which five hit the target, and enjoyed 63.8 per cent possession in the first half.

Although Japan improved in the second half, they were always vulnerable to the counter-attack, and Brazil were able to call upon much more quality off the bench.

Neymar leading by example

Paris Saint-Germain forward Neymar comes in for a lot of criticism but he still takes on the role of chief protagonist for his country, and as usual, he was at the centre of everything here.

Neymar had eight shots, twice as many as any of his team-mates, and also drew eight fouls, four times more than anyone else.

Do Selecao need a focal point?

It is difficult to argue with Brazil's potency, having bagged at least four goals in each of their previous four games prior to today, but they struggled to find the net here.

There were plenty of promising attacks but they lacked a cutting edge before Neymar made no mistake from 12 yards out.

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