SPRING BACK IN TITE’S STRIDE AFTER BRAZIL’S BIG WIN OVER SOUTH KOREA
▶ A 3-0 result in their friendly at Abu Dhabi’s Mohamed bin Zayed Stadium ends five-match winless run
Brazil manager Tite praised his side for showing what he considers their true colours in the 3-0 victory against South Korea in Abu Dhabi yesterday – a result that snapped a five-match winless streak.
The five-time world champions – also winners of the Copa America this summer – rebounded from Friday’s 1-0 defeat to Argentina in Saudi Arabia by seeing off South Korea in their second friendly in five days.
Goals from Lucas Paqueta, Philippe Coutinho and Danilo secured the triumph at the Mohamed bin Zayed Stadium.
The victory was Brazil’s first since they secured South America’s premier prize in July.
“Today we showed the fans why Brazil is one of the best international teams,” Tite said afterwards.
“We did a great job and ended with a great result. But not only did we have a great result, we also performed really well.
“I wasn’t too pleased with our performance in the last few matches, but today I can say I am happy with both the performance and result.”
Without star playmaker Neymar through injury, Brazil still created enough chances to win comfortably.
They took the lead on nine minutes when Paqueta headed home Renan Lodi’s deflected cross, the AC Milan attacking midfielder notching a second international goal in his 11 appearances.
Tite’s men then doubled their advantage nine minutes before half-time, Coutinho curling home a superb free-kick to break a drought of 10 national team matches without a goal.
On the hour, full-back Danilo rounded off the night, drilling Renan’s cut-back past Jo Hyeon-woo in the South Korea goal. “Coutinho played really well today and did a fantastic job,” Tite said.
“Paqueta scored a fantastic goal. All the players did a very good job today.”
Since defeating Peru to capture a ninth Copa America crown, Brazil have drawn with Colombia, Senegal and Nigeria, while suffering 1-0 reverses to Peru and Argentina – the most recent coming in Riyadh last week.
Against Argentina, Gabriel Jesus missed a penalty that would have given Brazil an early lead. Lionel Messi soon converted his own spot-kick to give his team a morale-boosting win.
“When we won the Copa that was great, then we played a few matches in which the performance took a dip because we weren’t challenged on the pitch and weren’t playing against strong teams,” Tite said.
“However, it is a different story when we take on strong teams. It lifts our performance and really shines the light on the great talent we have in the team.
“We lost Neymar and Dani Alves so we had to make changes to our tactics and strengthen our defensive line and change the strategy. So I’m pleased with how it turned out today.”
Meanwhile, Paulo Bento, the South Korea manager, was not overly upset with his side’s performance.
The two-time Asian champions, captained by Heung-min Son, did at times pepper Brazil’s goal with shots from range, with the Tottenham
Hotspur forward their greatest threat throughout. In the first half, Son curled an effort narrowly wide, while in the second he stung the hands of Alisson Becker with a fierce drive from the edge of the penalty area.
The closest South Korea came to scoring, though, came when Coutinho inadvertently deflected the ball against the base of his own post in the first half.
Bento’s side arrived in the match on the back of Thursday’s disappointing goalless draw in their World Cup qualifier against Lebanon, meaning they sit second in Group H at the halfway stage, one point behind leaders Turkmenistan. However, they have played a game less. They resume their campaign next March.
“I think it was a different game; a game in a different context than we played before,” Bento said.
“In the World Cup qualifiers, the idea is the same. But the opponents are different and have different strategies.
“Today, we faced the best team until now and we followed our ideas. This was essentially about our offensive process, where we played really well and with strong personality.
“Anyway, we made some defensive mistakes and we paid a high price because for that. The game was good for us and it is important to play as we did.
“But of course, we need to improve certain things and understand certain things. We cannot commit the same mistakes. It is very difficult to recover after that.”
I wasn’t too pleased with our performance in the last few matches, but today I can say I am happy with both the performance and result
Philippe Coutinho scores a goal with a superb free-kick for Brazil in Abu Dhabi
Brazil’s Gabriel Jesus and South Korea’s Heung-min Son share pleasantries during the friendly which ended in cheer for Brazil fans