Brazil beat Ecuador 2-0 in an insipid World Cup qualifying tie in Porto Alegre on Friday to maintain their perfect record and stay top of the South American qualifying group for Qatar 2022.
Everton forward Richarlison got the breakthrough 20 minutes into the second half when goalkeeper Alexander Dominguez could not stop his angled near-post shot.
Neymar then scored a penalty in injury time after Gabriel Jesus was brought down and the referee pointed to the spot after consulting the Video Assistant Referee (VAR).
The Paris St Germain striker saw his first attempt saved but was allowed to retake the kick after the referee spotted movement before the ball was struck.
Brazil were the better side for most of the match, but struggled to break down a plucky Ecuadoran side who had won three of their previous four qualifiers.
Flamengo’s Gabriel Barbosa, making his first international start in five years, had a goal disallowed for offside three minutes before half time and moments later Dominguez scooped a low drive from Neymar round the post.
The result means Brazil are top of the 10-team South America group, with 15 points from five games, four ahead of second-placed Argentina. Ecuador are third with nine.
The top four teams in the section qualify automatically for Qatar 2022 and the fifth-placed side goes into an intercontinental play-off.
Brazil’s next game is against Paraguay in Asuncion on June 8, while Ecuador are at home against Peru the same day.
Photo – Brazil’s Marquinhos (L, top) in action against Ecuador’s Angel Mena (L, bottom) during the CONMEBOL World Cup 2022 qualifier soccer match between Brazil and Ecuador at the Beira Rio Stadium in Porto Alegre, Brazil, 04 June 2021. EPA-EFE/Ricardo Rimoli