The star Neymar has advanced and re-entered the penalty shootout as Brazil retained their perfect start to qualifying for the World Cup in South America by beating Ecuador 2-0 on Friday. Richarlison gave Brazil the lead in the 64th minute and Neymar sealed the victory in injury time, but after another VAR farce. Referee Alexis Herrera initially gave a free kick against Gabriel Jesus five minutes after Angelo Preciado made contact with him and Ecuador in the Ecuadorian area. But after repeatedly examining the four-minute VAR, he changed his mind and was sentenced.
Neymar stumbled but Ecuador goalkeeper Alexander Dominguez was not fooled and easily fired a weak shot.
Ecuador was on the other end of the game when Herrera blew the whistle and Dominguez brought the game into the net.
Neymar recovered the penalty and this time sent Dominguez wrong.
The end of the slapstick could not hide the well-deserved victory for Brazil, who are four points ahead of unbeaten Argentina in the standings, Ecuador third, two points behind.
Predictably, Brazil dominated with 75 percent of the ball in the first quarter.
It wasn’t until 20 minutes later that Richarlison threatened with millimeters to start a free kick by Neymar.
Moments later Richarlison entered Gabriel through the door, but Dominguez quickly came out to break his small effort.
Ecuador was his usual self, but he showed an attacking attack that had seen him score 13 goals in the previous three games.
Neymar in particular felt the full force of Ecuador’s muscular approach.
Brazil were believed to have gone ahead three minutes before the break when Gabriel converted a cross from Danilo’s right wing but Ecuador was saved by a tight offside call.
A minute later Dominguez had to get out of a long distance from Neymar.
Ecuador’s chances were slim, with Preciado goalkeeper scoring from 20 yards out in 58 minutes.
Brazilian coach Tite saw enough and overtook Gabriel Jesus in favor of defensive midfielder Fred, who has been making his first appearance in Seleca since 2018.
The change paid immediate dividends. After Domingiuez saved Neymar from the right, he badly beat Richarlison’s shot in the 64th minute.
It was a one-way traffic and Marquinhos headed over the bar before Dominguez partially corrected his former clanger, keeping Gabriel in his right to deny Jesus and then blocking Gabriel with his foot.
Gabriel, nicknamed Gabigol, went off the empty net from Richarlison’s cross into the Lightning counterattack after Dominguez fired a dart from his field.
But the real drama came at the end of the game, as the VAR once again stole the headlines.
Brazil will travel to Paraguay on Tuesday while Ecuador hosts Peru before the start of the Copa America on June 13 in Brazil.
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