Paulinho scores hat-trick as Brazil thrash Uruguay in FIFA World Cup qualifier | football | Hindustan Times
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Paulinho scores hat-trick as Brazil thrash Uruguay in FIFA World Cup qualifier

Brazil defeated Uruguay 4-1 as the five-time world champions opened up a seven-point lead at the top of the South American qualifying standings

football Updated: Mar 24, 2017 09:02 IST
AFP
Brazil's Paulinho celebrates his hat trick during a 2018 World Cup qualifying match against Uruguay in Montevideo.
Brazil's Paulinho celebrates his hat trick during a 2018 World Cup qualifying match against Uruguay in Montevideo.(AP)

China-based midfielder Paulinho scored a hat-trick as Brazil thrashed Uruguay 4-1 to move to the brink of the World Cup finals here Thursday.

Barcelona superstar Neymar scored Brazil’s other goal with a cheeky lob as the five-time world champions opened up a seven-point lead at the top of the South American qualifying standings.

It was a superb display from Brazil, who have enjoyed a renaissance since new coach Tite took over last year following the sacking of Dunga.

Read | At 25, Neymar targeting Brazil goal record, World Cup success

Edinson Cavani fired Uruguay into the lead from the penalty spot after only nine minutes but Paulinho scored twice to put Brazil 2-1 ahead just after half-time.

Neymar’s sublime lob made it 3-1 and then Paulinho bundled in his third in injury time.

The top four teams in the South American standings qualify automatically, with the fifth entering a play-off.

Brazil made a bright start with Neymar and Philippe Coutinho combining after only four minutes to create a golden chance for Roberto Firmino, who was unable to tuck away Liverpool teammate Coutinho’s low cross.

But the Brazilians were rocked moments later when a blunder by Real Madrid defender Marcelo led to a Uruguay penalty.

Marcelo paid the price for an over-ambitious attempt to chest the ball back to Alisson, Cavani darting in to go wide of the Brazilian goalkeeper who clumsily brought down the Paris Saint-Germain striker.

Cavani then got to his feet to bury an emphatic spot-kick hard and low into the bottom left hand corner to make it 1-0 after nine minutes.

Brazil, however, did not have to wait long to draw level, Paulinho making it 1-1 after 19 minutes.

Neymar advanced menacingly down the left flank and picked out Paulinho in space. The midfielder surged forward and, with Uruguay’s defence backing off, uncorked a 25-yard thunderbolt that flew into the top corner.

Paulinho fired Brazil into the lead in the 51st minute, stabbing home a rebound from Coutinho’s shot.

Neymar then scored in the 75th minute to make the game safe before Paulinho chested home in injury time to complete a deserved win.