Goals: Raul Meireles (POR) Thiago Silva (BRA) Neymar (BRA) Jo (BRA)
Neymar was uplifted after he scored — and set up two others — in Brazil’s 3-1 victory.
Portugal learned that firsthand at Gillette Stadium on Tuesday night as the Brazilians did a quickstep on their cultural cousins en route to a 3-1 victory in their not-so-friendly meeting before a close-to-capacity gathering of 62,310.
“This is a game like a World Cup and the World Cup is even worse than this Brazil, Portugal clash at Gillette Stadium
The Portuguese were amply compensated for their trouble but they might well have enjoyed the experience at a different time. They came here from Belfast after sweating out a victory over Northern Ireland in last weekend’s crucial Cup qualifier and were without superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, who beat the Irish all by himself with a second-half hat trick but stayed behind, reckoning that rest would help ease his tendinitis.
Portugal and Brazil have passed time together in Rio and Sao Paulo, in Lisbon and Porto and even in London. This was their first time together Stateside and it was a opportunity for their communicants to break out their national jerseys, fire up the grill, heap on steak and sausage and turn the parking lots alongside Route 1 into the planet’s largest outdoor churrascaria.
But as the night wore on it became a Brazilian fiesta as Neymar, the 21-year-old wonderchild who wears Pele’s old number (10) and played for his club (Santos) before signing on this year at Barcelona, put on a sleight-of-foot show, scoring one goal and setting up the other two.
All it took to shake Brazil out of its samba rhythm was an almost comical giveaway by defender Maicon in the 17th minute. His unthinking header off a blocked shot ended up on the foot of Raul Meireles, who promptly and thankfully put the ball past goalkeeper Julio Cesar after he’d put his own header off the right post five minutes earlier.
That was all, though, for the Portuguese, who left a few more first-half chances unfinished and couldn’t stop the Brazilians from cashing theirs.
Neymar promptly began collecting the bill. He deftly looped a corner kick that Thiago Silva soared and headed past keeper Rui Patricio in the 24th minute. Then, 10 minutes later, he dribbled through a thicket of red shirts and popped one into the left corner.
Maybe if they’d had Ronaldo fit and fresh, the Portuguese could have done some business but they needed more than one magician to match what Brazil put on the field, even missing four starters in forwards Hulk and Fred and defenders Dani Alves and Marcelo.
“We didn’t lose the game due to [Ronaldo’s] absence,” said Bento.