Two goals from teenage prodigy Gabriel Jesus fired Brazil to their first ever qualifying victory in Ecuador on Thursday to reignite the South American giants’ 2018 World Cup qualification campaign.
Jesus -- who signed for English side Manchester City from Palmeiras in August -- underscored his status as one of the brightest talents in Brazilian football with two late goals as new coach Tite’s reign got off to a dream start with a 3-0 victory.
The 19-year-old forward also played a key role in Brazil’s opening goal, winning the penalty which Barcelona superstar Neymar duly converted in the 72nd minute.
For once though, Neymar, the hero of Brazil’s first ever Olympic football gold medal last month, was outshone by his fellow attacker, making his first senior appearance.
Jesus won the penalty for the first goal after bursting into the area and drawing a foul from Ecuador goalkeeper Alexander Dominguez.
Paraguayan referee Enrique Caceres wasted no time in pointing to the spot before Neymar stepped up to score.
Jesus -- another member of Brazil’s triumphant Olympic campaign -- then doubled Brazil’s lead three minutes from time with a sublime flicked finish after Marcelo’s low cross from the left flank.
It got better in stoppage time when Jesus surged forward against a ragged Ecuador defense to curl home a wonderful shot into the top corner for 3-0.
The victory was Brazil’s first win on the road in what has been a disappointing qualifying campaign so far, with the five-time world champions lying in sixth place, outside automatic qualifying, prior to Thursday’s game.
Brazil coach Tite, who took over from Dunga after a humiliating first round exit at the Copa America in June, praised the Selecao’s teamwork.
“The whole team did very well, they had the spirit of solidarity,” Tite said. “We suffered a bit at the beginning but we had the character to get the win.
“The players were great both physically and technically. We’ll enjoy this moment and then evaluate.”
It was also the first time Brazil has ever beaten Ecuador in the thin air of Quito, which is situated a dizzying 2,850 meters (9,350 feet) above sea level.
Tite meanwhile praised the contribution of his predecessor Dunga, saying the 1994 World Cup-winning captain had laid the foundations for Thursday’s win.
“It was partly the legacy of Dunga -- because the players were already adapted to play in their positions,” he said.