Brazil were given much more of a game by Saudi Arabia than they were expecting, but eventually sealed the win deep into injury time.
Saudi Arabia - Brazil live online: match report
Brazil ran out 2-0 winners against Saudi Arabia in Riyadh this Friday, thanks to goals coming from Gabriel Jesus and Alex Sandro late at the end of each half.
Third-ranked Brazil were probably expecting a much easier ride against 73rd-placed Saudi Arabia. But the stubborn hosts did not make it easy for Neymar and Co. and they were almost awarded for their efforts with a stale mate at half time. But after having created several chances, which the Saudis had done well to deal with, Brazil scored in the 43rd minute, when Neymar sucked in three defenders to leave Gabriel Jesus in space down the right. The PSG man played a pin-point pass into the path of the unmarked number 9, who, from just 8 yards out, dinked it past the keeper to give Brazil the expected advantage at the break.
Ten minutes into the second half and Brazil were almost two up, but Neymar’s curling left-footed effort hit the far upright. After that and for about 15 minutes, Brazil were quiet as Saudi Arabia enjoyed their best spell of the game – the best chance falling to their best player on the night Al Faraj, who found himself in space at the edge of the box and on the end of a pass back from Al Dawsari. But he scuffed his shot and it went well wide of the left post. During that 15-minute spell, the Green Falcons showed some intent and passed well, but just lacked the capability to really break open the Brazil defence.
Saudis down to ten
Any hopes of a Saudi equaliser were dashed, however, when their keeper was sent off for handling the ball outside his box with about ten minutes to go. In an effort to stop substitute Richarlison, who was storming towards goal, Al Oswais came rushing off his line to stop the attack, but he was well outside the area when his arm made contact with the ball. And after calling for VAR to review the incident, the referee gave him his marching orders. It was a sad ending for the goalkeeper, who had had a decent game up to that point, which included a stunning save to deny the well-struck header of Gabriel Jesus in the 26th minute.
Brazil take back control
With the Saudis down to ten men, Brazil took control and made a couple of chances, with substitute Walace almost making it two in the 89th minute when his glancing header from a Neymar corner was just shy of goal. Five minutes later and deep into injury time, it was looking like it would finish 1-0, which would have been an embarrassing score line for Brazil, but a thoroughly respectable one for the Saudis.
But with the last play of the game, Neymar put in yet another great delivery from a corner, and Alex Sandro, who was first to meet the in swinging cross, nodded it past the substitute Saudi keeper in front of goal to make it 2-0 – a score line which was somewhat more of a fair reflection on the game.
Brazil face a much sterner test against Argentina on Friday. Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, can leave the stadium with their heads held high, after giving Brazil much more a fight than they had been expecting. Up next they have a much more winnable game against neighbours and rivals Iraq.
96' Peep! And that's it. Brazil would have been disappointed with a 1-0 scoreline. But a last-second goal from Sandro made it two for Tite's side. All credit to Saudi Arabia, they gave Brazil much more of a game than I suspect they were expecting. Brazil can now look forward to Argentina on Monday. That's it from us here. Match report to follow...
95' 95' Last corner and chance of the game for Brazil.... Neymar delivery is good and Alex Sandro nods it past the keeper. Poor marking from Saudi. That's a more respectable scoreline for Brazil.
91' Neymar's free kick is half a meter wide, and the assistant referee signals for six minutes of added time.
91' But before the free kick taken, there is time for 41-year-old Abdulghani to come on.
90' Neymar almost rugby tackled and it's another free kick.
89' Neymar's corner is met by Walace... and his header is just wide of the far post.
88' Neymar shoots, but it's deflected off the wall for a corner.
87' Subsitute keeper comes on and has to deal with a Brazil set piece from point blank range.
85' 82' And it turns out he had rushed out too far! It's a red card for Al Owais! He used his hands to save, but he was a good two yards outside of this area. Automatic red. A sorry end for Al Owais, he's had a great game.
82' Al Owais rushed out of his goal to stop Richarlison.
80' Saudi change: Debutant Al Bishi makes way for Al Shehri, who scored in their most recent game against Bolivia.
76' Play resumes after a water break, which was needed here due to the high temperatures.
73' Brazil changes: Arthur for Coutinho; Richarlison ofr Gabriel Jesus.
72' First change for Saudi: Al Burayk has made way for Al Mowalad
70' Saudi have been on top for the last 15 minutes. They're pressing high and have many men forward but of course that is leaving them open to the counter.
68' Yellow card for Otayf for taking down Neymar who was looking to break and had two men ahead of him.
66' Brazil make their second change: new face Walace comes on for Real Madrid's Casemiro.
65' Saudi Arabia have been enjoying their best spell of the game. Going forward with intent, passing well. But they will have to do a lot more to break down Brazil.
58' Chance for Saudi on the counter attack! Al Dawsari sprints into the penalty area, passes it back to Al Faraj who was rushing forward towards the box. He shoots but it's well wide. Best chance of the game for Saudi.
58' Saudi Arabia enjoying a bit of pressure now.
55' Neymar tries to curl one in from distance with his left foot, but it's just wide of the far post. Great effort!
52' Neymar sucks in two defenders and plays a brilliant through ball for Lucas Mora, he shoots from 10 yards out... but it's saved by Owais
49' Lucas Mora intercepts a Saudi defender just outside the Saudi penalty area, he runs onto the ball, but is taken down in the box. He's appealing for a penalty but the ref says play on. Saudi Arabia survive.
46' And Saudi Arabia get the second half underway.
Lucas has come on. The Spurs player hasn't played for his Brazil for two years. He replaces Fred.
The players have emerged fromt the tunnel for the second half.
Well Saudi Arabia have shown some quality here and they were so close to going in all square at the break. But with just two minutes to go until the half-time, Brazil finally unlocked the Saudi defence and Jesus put Tite's team ahead. Saudi have a had a very vocal and boistrous crowd behind them, the singing and chanting has been non-stop.
48' Peep, peep, peep! The ref blows for half-time.
43' Neymar beats one running through the center and draws three towards him, which leaves Jesus open on the right. Neymar plays a pass to the right to the unmarked Jesus in the box and he slots it past the keeper into the far corner.
43' GOAL Brazil!
40' Saudi have a chance to break thanks to an incredible back flick from Al Faraj that took Brazil by surprise. It sets Al Sharani off down the right, but the pass from Al Shahrani to Dawsari is poor and Brazil win the ball back.
36' The players have hydrated and the play resumes. Brazil were not expecting Saudi to give them so much of a fight. Neymar and Co have had to sweat a bit more than they thought they would in this hot and sticky night in Riyadh
32' The ref has called for a water break, it's stiflingly hot it Riyadh.
32' Coutinho takes the corner this time... but it's dealt with by Saudi.
31' Neymar's delivery is deep towards the back post and it's out for another corner.
30' Neymar is sitting deep and trying to build something, but Saudi are holding up well. Eventually Brazil have one a corner.
26' Neymar swings it in from the set piece. He picks out Gabrial Jesus.... it's a fantastic effort with his head and an even more fantastic save from the outstrecthing Al Owais to keep it out.
24' Gabriel Jesus has scored but he's offside.
23' Saudi enjoying a spell of possession. Brazil are happy to sit deep and let them have it.
20' Neymar beats two defenders and shoots from just inside the box.... but it's wide. You'd expect him to score from there. The PSG man looking dangerous every time he gets the ball. The previous boos directed towards him have subsided.
18' Coutinho at the edge of the box tries to pick out Neymar with a nice through ball, but it's been cut out by a sliding Saudi defender.
15' Saudi Arabia have come out unscathed after some Brazil pressure and are now enjoying some possession themselves. Incredible atmosphere here, the fans are singing with all their hearts.
11' Brazil come close again twice in the last minute, but Saudi hanging on. Looking like a Brazil goal is imminent now.
10' First chance for Brazil comes through Neymar. The PSG man makes his way passed two defenders and takes a shot from just outside the box. It's deflected and wide. No corner as the linesman had flagged for offside.
7' Saudi Arabia have the first shot of the game after Casemiro gives away the ball in his own third. But the shot is blocked. It's been a positive start from Saudi, they've taken Brazil by surprise here.
6' Brazil in control trying to build something now. Neymar tried to take on two players, but he was intercepted and is complaining he was fouled. Neither the crowd or the referee having any of it.
3' Big boos for Neymar when he touched the ball.
3' Confident start from Saudi, passing it around, Brazil have hardly touched the ball. The crowd right behind them here.
1' And we're off. Brazil, in yellow, get the game underway.
Casemiro deep in discussion with his teammates in a huddle.
Captains today: Hawsaw (DEF) for Saudi; Neymar (FWD) for Brazil.
The teams are out and standing for the anthems. First up Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia XI: Mohammed Al Owais; Mohammed Al Burayk, Omar Hawsawi, Yasir Al Shahrani; Ali Albulayhi, Abdullah Otayf, Salman Al Faraj, Hussain Al Mogahwi; Salem Al Dawsari, Albayshi, Hattan Babhir.
Brazil Starting XI: Ederson; Fabinho, Marquinhos, Pablo, Alex Sandro; Fred, Casemiro, Renato Augusto; Philippe Coutinho, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar.
Saudi Arabia made a historic decision to allow women in stadiums back in January. They certainly seem to be enjoying the occasion.
These two have met on four previous occasions, with Brazil winning all four. In 1997 interestingly, the Ronaldo-Romario strike partnership made its debut against Saudi 1997. Although not much ever came of that partnership despite the potential.
There was some very ornate seating for the dignatries and unused players at the Prince Faisal Bin Fahd Stadium for the match between Argentina and Iraq last night. I'm looking forward to seeing if there will be more of the same at the King Saud University Stadium. The Saudis certainly know how to do luxury.
Hello and welcome to our coverage of Saudi Arabia vs Brazil, which kicks off in half an hour in Riyadh. This is the second game of the so-called Superclásico Tournament taking place in Saudi. Argentina and Iraq squared off last night, with the South American side enjoying a 4-0 victory over the Middle Eastern minnows. Brazil will also be expected to win comfortably tonight before they meet Argentina on Monday.
Saudi Arabia - Brazil live online: latest updates
Saudi Arabia - Brazil live online: match preview
Saudi Arabia host Brazil at the King Saud University Stadium on Friday with both sides approaching the game with different priorities. The Green Falcons have played just once since the 2018 World Cup, a 2-2 draw against Bolivia in September, and are using the four-team mini-tournament that also features Argentina and Iraq as preparation for the 2019 Asian Cup in the UAE next January, where Juan Antonio Pizzi’s side have been drawn against North Korea, Lebanon and Qatar in Group E.
Dubbed the “Super Clasico” tournament with Argentina and Brazil to square off at the King Abdullah Sports City next week, Saudi Arabia will face a strong if experimental Brazil side on Friday as Tite looks ahead to the 2019 Copa América, where the pressure on the Canarinha to lift the title for the first time since 2007 on home soil will be immense.
The last time the sides met was in 2002 in Riyadh, Brazil edging the game 1-0. In total they have met on four occasions, Brazil winning all four by an aggregate score of 16-3.
The Green Falcons performed broadly as expected at the 2018 World Cup, going out at the first hurdle as they had done on their previous three appearances at the tournament. A final game victory over Egypt added a little lustre – it was the country’s first win at the World Cup in 24 years – and Pizzi, who was installed as manager in November 2017, will be expected to build upon that in the upcoming Asian Cup.
In recent years Saudi Arabi have underperformed at the regional tournament, going out in the group stage in 2011 and 2015 having been either champions or runners-up in six of the seven previous editions stretching back to 1984.
Pizzi is somewhat hamstrung by a squad entirely composed of players from the Saudi Pro League, a circumstance the Saudi FA attempted to remedy by sending several players to LaLiga last January to gain experience. Only Fahad Al-Muwallad made an appearance in the Spanish top flight, a 10-minute substitute cameo for Levante and he has been omitted from the latest Green Falcons squad, which features veteran left back Hussein Abdulghani and promising young Al-Qadsiah striker Haroune Camara.
After exiting the World Cup at the quarterfinal stage in Russia, Tite’s side have been in action twice, beating the USA 2-0 and El Salvador 5-0 in a pair of Brasil Global Tour friendlies in the states.
The well-travelled coach, who had brief stints in charge of Al Ain and Al Wahda in the UAE on his CV, was perhaps lucky to retain his post after what was ultimately viewed as a disappointment for one of the pre-tournament favourites and will be expected to deliver when the Copa América is staged in Brazil next summer.
The Canarinha coach has retained much of his squad from Russia and has no shortage of firepower with Neymar, Gabriel Jesus, Richarlison, Malcom and Roberto Firmino being joined in attack by Lucas Moura, who received his first call-up for two years in place of injured Grêmio forward Éverton.
Tite’s midfield is also better-stocked and more finely balanced than many of his predecessors but if there is one area Saudi Arabia can exploit it is at the back, where in the absence of Thiago Silva, Dani Alves and injured Real Madrid full back Marcelo there are a distinct lack of caps behind the likes of Danilo, Filipe Luis and Miranda, who are unlikely to make the Copa América squad next season, leaving Tite to examine options including uncapped Bordeaux central defender Pablo and 20-year-old Porto right back Éder Militão.