World Cup hosts Brazil strolled to a 4-0 win over Panama in their penultimate warm-up Tuesday, with goals from Neymar, Daniel Alves, Hulk and Willian securing the win which barely satisfied their coach.
After a tentative opening, the Selecao easily saw off limited opponents as Neymar, with his 31st international goal, set the ball rolling, rifling in a free-kick for the opener on the half hour.
Alves drove in the second five minutes before the interval and a cheeky Neymar backheel was enough to pave the way for Hulk to dispatch the third early in the second period before Willian put the icing on the cake 17 minutes from time.
With only Friday’s friendly against Serbia to come before the Brazilians meet Croatia in their June 12 World Cup opener in Sao Paulo, 2002 title-winning coach Luiz Felipe Scolari seized the chance to use several second string players.
Afterwards, he indicated he saw room for further improvement.
“I am still concerned. We are getting better — but we know we have a fair way to go,” indicated the man who lifted Brazil’s fifth Cup in Japan 12 years ago and who now wants to deliver first success on home soil.
“The run out was worthwhile but we must up our rhythm and be a lot better for the Croatia game,” prior to further group games against Mexico and Cameroon.
Scolari explained the opening minutes of Tuesday’s game had concerned him.
“We were a bit off beam in the opening minutes and it could have been different had we been playing a superior opponent. Afterwards, we improved.”
With Neymar scoring one and making two — he also earned a yellow card — Scolari said of his star man: “Everyone knows Neymar’s talent. But he always comes up with something new to surprise.”
Scolari added that with the striker having missed a chunk of Barcelona’s run-in to the end of the Spanish league campaign through injury he planned to give him another full 90 minutes against the Serbians.
Scolari had called on his side to pull their socks up after a slovenly training session on Sunday and they responded after a quiet opening quarter of an hour.
Luis Tejada picked up a yellow card for the visitors with a foul on Neymar and Brazil’s star man swiped his free kick high into the net to delight a 30,000 crowd.
The Barcelona starlet then crossed for Fred but the Scolari favorite directed a header off target.
Alves then smacked home the second with a low effort to all but break the visitors’ sagging resistence and allow Scolari the luxury of six changes.
Neymar’s superbly weighted backheel allowed Hulk to slot in a cool third with the outside of his boot.
Panama tried to respond with a Roberto Nurse header which Julio Cesar, finally called into action, tipped over before Brazil scored again on 72 minutes with Neymar feeding Maxwell, who found Willian for a routine finish.