Sports

Brazil struggle to beat Venezuela without Neymar


LIVERPOOL striker Roberto Firmino scored the crucial goal as Brazil laboured to a 1-0 win over a well organized but limited Venezuela in their World Cup qualifier on Friday.


Firmino broke the deadlock on 66 minutes in Sao Paulo, poaching a goal after Venezuelan defender Darwin Machis' attempt to clear an Everton Ribeiro cross fell to him a few yards out.


The hosts missed the injured Neymar's creativity in midfield, but even with an attack sporting Firmino, Gabriel Jesus and Richarlison, they could find no way through the mass Venezuelan defence in the first half.


For all Brazil's pressing, Wuilker Farinez had little enough to do in the Venezuela goal, but the keeper made a flying save to beat away a bouncing shot from Firmino just before the half-hour, the Liverpool striker heading the resulting corner well wide.


With 75 percent possession but short of ideas in attack, most of Brazil's threat came from the left and it was from there they worked their best chance on 32 minutes, Atletico Madrid's Renan Lodi whipping in a cross that Gabriel Jesus and then Richarlison, at full stretch, failed to turn in to a gaping goal.


Rondon, formerly of West Bromwich Albion and now plying his trade for Chinese Super Lague club Dalian Professional, otherwise cut an isolated figure when not busy with defensive duties.






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