Neymar of Brazil heads the ball against Austria.
Neymar of Brazil heads the ball against Austria.

Rampant WC favourites on target in final pre-Russia hit out

BRAZIL scored three superbly-taken goals to beat feisty Austria 3-0 in sweltering conditions and put the finishing touches to their impressive World Cup preparation.

Gabriel Jesus, Neymar and Philippe Coutinho shared the goals for the five-time champions who showed great patience in the first half as they worked to break Austria down before turning on the style after the interval.

Neymar started a game for the first time since injuring his metatarsal in February, although he played in the second half of last week's win 2-0 over Croatia when he celebrated his return with a goal.

It was also the first time the quartet of Neymar, Jesus, Coutinho and Willian had started a game together.

Austria, unbeaten in their last eight games and winners over Germany a week ago, proved uncomfortable opponents and had nothing to lose in front of a capacity 48,500 crowd, having failed to qualify for the World Cup.

Neymar, substituted in the 83rd minute, was on the receiving end of some rough challenges and needed treatment after a tackle from behind from Aleksandar Dragovic who was booked.

Fernandinho and his Brazilian teammates applaud the fans.
Fernandinho and his Brazilian teammates applaud the fans.

"I don't know the limit of Neymar," Brazil coach Tite said through an interpreter when asked if his main striker was back at full strength.

"'If (Austria) opens up in defence, go for it,' I told him at the break. In the end I thought it might be getting too much for him so I took him off." With the temperature hot enough for water breaks, tempers frayed as Casemiro replied with a rough tackle of his own.

Marko Arnautovic gave Brazil a couple of early frights before the South Americans went ahead in the 36th minute, Jesus scoring with a delightful dinked effort from a difficult angle after Marcelo's shot rebounded to him. It was his 10th goal in 17 internationals.

Philippe Coutino of Brazil scores against Austria.
Philippe Coutino of Brazil scores against Austria.

Neymar's goal in the 63rd minute was even better as he collected the ball on the left of the area, performed a drag-back which left Dragovic on the floor and sent his shot between goalkeeper Heinz Lindner's legs.

That goal pulled him level with Romario's total of 55 international goals, putting him equal third on Brazil's all-time scorers list after Pele and Ronaldo.

Six minutes later, substitute Roberto Firmino set Coutinho clear down the left and he curled his shot wide of Lindner in for the third.

Brazil open their World Cup campaign against Switzerland on Sunday and also face Costa Rica and Serbia in Group E.

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"The place was packed and it was a really good time,” he said.

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