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Neymar brilliance gets Brazil rolling

sports Updated: Jun 17, 2013 02:52 IST

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Neymar inspired Brazil to a 3-0 win over Japan on Saturday as the five-time world champions made a perfect start to their bid to clinch a third successive Confederations Cup title.

Brazil won the competition in 1997, as well as the 2005 and 2009 editions, although their ensuing World Cup performances left much to be desired.

With next year’s World Cup at home for the first time since 1950, this year's vintage are bent on winning both tournaments, if only to send a message out to Pele, who said before Saturday's game the current squad are not good enough.

Neymar, who has just in the past month switched to Pele's famous but historically onerous number 10 shirt, lived entirely up to the hype as he scored a brilliant opening goal after just three minutes.

He went on to lead the Japanese defence a merry dance before Paulinho and Jo made the points safe after the break. Japan skipper Makoto Hasebe earned a booking from Portuguese referee Pedro Proenca for fouling his rival in first-half injury-time.

A 67,400 crowd, who roundly booed FIFA President Sepp Blatter and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff beforehand following protests at the amount of money being spent on sports events, were entranced by Neymar's stunning opener.

The new Barcelona star hit a thunderbolt past Japan goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima after Real Madrid defender Marcelo had crossed languidly from the left.

Bustling centre forward Fred chested down for Neymar to drill in from 20 metres into the top corner and leave the Asian champions stunned. Buoyed by that, Brazil started to boss the show against a Japanese side they had thrashed 4-0 in their last meeting, an October friendly in Poland.

Scolari eventually decided Neymar had done sufficient work and withdrew the starlet with 20 minutes remaining for Paris Saint Germain winger Lucas and also withdrew Hulk for Hernanes.