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Brazil 2 - 0 Scotland: Neymar sparkles in Sunday afternoon stroll

WHAT a pity some of the Scotland support chose to jeer the teenager when he left the field in the final minute. They had just witnessed a wonderful performance from an attacking midfielder who, on this evidence, could emerge as the next major star of world football.

His close control was breathtaking at times, his finishing unerring, in a display that was streets ahead of anything produced by anyone in a blue shirt.

ON A day which Craig Levein had predicted would be an education for his players, Scotland were duly given a footballing lesson which simply underlined the gulf in class which remains between them and the world's leading teams.

Two goals from Neymar, the 19-year-old Santos prodigy who showed exactly why so many of Europe's major clubs are falling over themselves in the race for his signature, consigned Scotland to their eighth defeat in ten meetings with the sport's most glamorous and celebrated nation.

But the final scoreline hardly begins to illustrate Brazil's superiority over Levein's men in terms of technical ability, tactical awareness and athletic prowess. The ease with which Brazil kept possession of the ball, regardless of Scotland's efforts to press them, made the match appear little more than a training exercise for Mano Menezes' side at times.

It also placed in sharp perspective the current status of Scotland, something which many observers were all too prepared to exaggerate after previous friendly wins over the Faroe Islands and Northern Ireland.

• How the players rated at the Emirates

• In pictures: Brazil 2 - 0 Scotland

In terms of Levein's bid to resuscitate Scotland's Euro 2012 qualifying campaign later this year, yesterday's sobering defeat in London was as irrelevant as those facile victories. But it was a reminder, for those who needed it, that Scotland remain some way short of the levels required to make any significant impression on the international stage.

Brazil's 1-0 half-time lead was scant reward for the dominance they asserted from the early stages, leaving Levein and his players to take at least some comfort from being able to preserve the facade of a competitive edge to the contest.

But apart from a brief spell in the second half when they managed to spend some time in Brazilian territory, albeit without causing any concern to Cesar, the Scots found themselves engaged in damage limitation.

They defended resolutely, although Brazil's profligacy in front of goal was every bit as much of a factor in their failure to win by a far wider margin.

Had Leandro Damiao, the Internacional striker making his senior international debut, been able to match his aerial prowess with accurate finishing, Brazil would have been out of sight before the interval. The 21-year-old was a little unfortunate to see his first headed attempt of the afternoon clip the top of Allan McGregor's crossbar from Elano's right wing corner, but he was wasteful moments later when he directed the ball wide of the goalkeeper's right-hand post following another fine Elano delivery.

Scotland had to ride their luck as they looked to repel an increasingly insistent Brazilian attack. Gary Caldwell blocked a Lucas Leiva cross with his left hand, after the Liverpool player had played a delightful one-two with Elano to carve open the Scotland defence, but neither referee Howard Webb or the Brazilian players, who did not appeal for a penalty, spotted the offence. Caldwell made a more impressive and conventional challenge to halt Dani Alves, the Barcelona right-back's constant raids a feature of Brazil's play throughout.

Despite being so firmly second best, Scotland might have snatched an unlikely lead in the 35th minute. Alves was penalised for a foul on James Morrison to present Scotland with a free-kick wide on the left. Charlie Adam, whose set piece delivery yesterday was generally not up to the high standard he has set himself this season, produced a magnificent delivery on this occasion to pick out Steven Whittaker's run in front of his marker Lucas Leiva. The Rangers midfielder, however, guided his header wide of Cesar's left-hand post.

Perhaps startled by this rare threat, Brazil upped the tempo of their work and finally made the breakthrough three minutes before the interval. Ramires stretched the Scotland defence with a terrific pass which sent left-back Andre Santos sprinting clear of Alan Hutton. His low cross found Neymar whose control and poise was quite magnificent as he guided a right foot shot around Caldwell and beyond McGregor's left hand into the corner of the net from around 12 yards.

Neymar almost doubled Brazil's lead during a vibrant start to the second half, his right-foot shot after a surging run striking the top of the crossbar.

Scotland were rattled and disorganised during this spell. James McArthur gave the ball away needlessly to Ramires, the Chelsea midfielder seeing his attempted pass inside to Neymar cut out by McGregor's alert intervention, the Scotland goalkeeper then making a fine blocking save from Damiao's follow-up effort.

The movement and sudden acceleration of the Brazilian players continued to beguile Scotland, with Jadson and Alves linking up superbly to create an opening for the unmarked Ramires which he squandered, blazing a right-foot shot wildly over.

The introduction of substitute Barry Bannan and Kris Commons provided Scotland with fresh stability and that little period when they managed to put Brazil on the back foot. But the closest they came to an equaliser was when Adam burst forward and sent a left-foot shot well over the top from around 20 yards.The second goal which was the least Brazil deserved was as a result of Adam's injudicious challenge on Neymar just inside the penalty area. It was an award of the soft variety but Howard Webb's decision to point to the spot was correct nonetheless. Neymar's composure was total as he got up to send McGregor the wrong way with a perfectly struck penalty.

Scotland survived another penalty claim for handball against Caldwell as Brazil looked to add to their tally, something substitute Jonas should have done when he contrived to shoot over from 14 yards after being brilliantly played in by eye-catching fellow replacement Lucas, another teenager of huge promise. Bannan at least forced Cesar into action in the closing stages, although his free-kick was collected with complete ease by the Inter Milan goalkeeper as he made his only save of the day. It was a fitting metaphor for how simply Brazil had won the match.

Brazil: Cesar, Alves, Lucio, Silva, Santos; Leiva (Sandro 87), Ramires; Jadson (Lucas 72), Elano (Elias 82), Neymar (Augusto 90); Damiao (Jonas 78). Subs not used: Victor, Maicon, Luisao, Luiz, Henrique, Jefferson.

Scotland: McGregor, Hutton, Caldwell, Berra (D Wilson 73), Crainey; Adam (Snodgrass 78); Brown, Morrison (Cowie 90), McArthur (Bannan 57), Whittaker (Commons 65); Miller (Mackail-Smith 87). Subs not used: Gordon, Hanley, Maguire, Bell, Davidson, M Wilson.

 
 
 

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