World Cup 2018 friendly international

Brazil 2-0 Croatia: World Cup 2018 warm-up friendly match report

Do not miss the Brazil vs Croatia friendly match with all the live coverage, latest news, score and match report in the World Cup warm-up at Anfield, Liverpool, on June 3, 2018.
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Brazil 2-0 Croatia: World Cup 2018 warm-up friendly match report

It was all about Neymar before the match, and it was inevitably all about Neymar on the day after the PSG star made his eagerly awaited return to action at Anfield as Brazil beat Croatia 2-0 in a World Cup warm-up game.

There was a decent turn-out in Liverpool for a match that delivered less than it promised but the second-half introduction of the Brazil captain lifted proceedings above a first half of lukewarm action with both sides approaching the game at a testimonial pace in the opening 45.

Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic will have been left with plenty to ponder ahead of the World Cup as his side rarely threatened Alisson Becker and failed to find much coherence between midfield and attack. Ivan Rakitic operated in a withdrawn role and Luka Modric failed to exert any influence on the game before being withdrawn on the hour mark, although the length of his season with Real Madrid is the only cause of concern for Dalic ahead of the tournament, the Croatia boss electing to spare his captain the full 90 at Anfield as he explored other options.

Eintracht Frankfurt winger Ante Rebic put in a lively performance on the left and Hoffenheim striker Andrej Kamaric showed flashes of menace but Croatia barely located second gear as a unit and eventually succumbed to one of the favourites for the title in Russia after the arrival of Neymar on the scene.

Neymar provides star quality at Anfield

Brazil had failed to muster anything of note in the first half, with Gabriel Jesus in particular not rewarding his coach’s decision to start him ahead of Roberto Firmino and hand him the armband with Marcelo and Thiago Silva more obvious choices to assume the role permanently in Russia. With Neymar came a more spirited and urgent Canarinha performance and the PSG forward moved to within a goal of Romário’s total for the Seleção with a fine solo effort 25 minute into his cameo.

Picking up the ball on the edge of the area there appeared to be little danger with three red and white shirts shadowing Neymar but he skipped though two challenges to bury a vicious effort into the roof of Danijel Subasic’s net to break the deadlock and gave the fans inside Liverpool’s historic stadium something to cheer. It was not quite an “I was there” goal, but not far off either.

It also sparked a reaction from Croatia, who showed a little more attacking intent having tested Alisson only once up to that point, the Brazil keeper making a fine reaction save from Rebic shortly before Neymar’s strike. The best chance to level fell to debutant Duje Caleta-Car, who rose higher freely above the Brazil defence but saw his effort glance off his shoulder rather than making decisive contact with his head.

A late flurry of substitutions took the blunted the brief competitive edge and it appeared as though both sides were willing to call it a day until a final Brazil attack reaped a second. Casemiro found himself in space in midfield and lofted a ball to Firmino, who probably couldn’t believe his luck when substitute Tin Jedvaj swung a boot at the innocuous delivery and stumbled backwards, leaving the Liverpool striker in familiar territory in the Anfield box, with only the onrushing Subasic to beat, Firmino lifted a composed chip over the Croatia keeper to embellish the scoreline.

Brazil vs Croatia live: as it happened