impressive Brazil thump Bolivia
NATAL, Brazil (AP):
Brazil maintained its momentum in South America's World Cup qualifiers by thrashing Bolivia 5-0 on Thursday, staying a point behind Uruguay, which stayed on top after defeating Venezuela.
Elsewhere, Copa America champions Chile sank even lower after losing 3-0 to Ecuador, while Colombia managed to beat Paraguay away 1-0 with a goal in the dying minutes. An Argentina team missing star Lionel Messi managed a draw at Peru.
"Ole, ole, ole, ole ... Tite! Tite!" It had been ages since a Brazil coach had the pleasure of being hailed as a hero by fans. But that happened on Thursday to Adenor Bacchi, universally known as Tite, only three games after getting the job and winning his third consecutive match for Brazil. Nearly all 30,000 supporters at the Arena das Dunas in sunny Natal, in the country's Northeast, sounded excited about the 55-year-old from the beginning to the end of the hammering of the Bolivians.
The goals were scored by Neymar (10), Philippe Coutinho (25), Filipe Luis (38), Gabriel Jesus (44) and Roberto Firmino (75). Brazil's goalkeeper, Alison barely touched the ball during the entire game.
Asked about the reaction of fans in the post-match press conference, Tite held the tears and looked above as he repeated "thank you".
After victories over Ecuador, Colombia and Bolivia, Brazil is second in the table with 18 points, one behind leaders Uruguay. Bolivia is ninth with seven points.
"We feel that the atmosphere here has changed for the better," right-back Dani Alves said at the end of the match, without mentioning Tite's predecessor, Dunga.
Barcelona star Neymar delivered a great performance in the 65 minutes he was on the pitch before he left with a bleeding forehead caused by a Bolivian elbow. He scored the opening goal, repeatedly dribbled through Bolivia's defense, irritated the opposition but also picked his third yellow card, which suspends him from Tuesday's clash against Venezuela, in Merida.
Neymar's goal was the 300th of his career, according with the Brazilian Football Confederation. These figures include all those he scored for Brazil, Santos and Barcelona as a professional since 2009. He also surpassed midfielder Zico as the 4th top goalscorer in Brazil's history. Now Neymar only trails Romario (56), Ronaldo (67) and Pele (95). The Barcelona star is 24 years-old.
No Lionel Messi meant no party for Argentina at Peru. After leading twice, Argentina conceded a late goal to the hosts, which resulted in a draw. New coach Edgardo Bauza struggled to make his midfield more fluent and Manchester City's striker Sergio Aguero failed to lead the team in Messi's absence. Argentina's goals were scored by Funes Mori (15) and Gonzalo Higuain (77). Peru initially equalised through Paolo Guerrero (58) and again with a penalty converted by Christian Cueva. Now Argentina is 5th in the standings with 16 points, the same as Ecuador and Colombia.
South American qualifying leader Uruguay was not surprised by last-place Venezuela in Montevideo and won 3-0 in convincing fashion.