Czech Republic 1-3 Brazil : Match Report
Brazil managed to overcome a stubborn Czech Republic 3-1 in Prague after the European minnows had taken a shock lead. A brace from Manchester City striker Gabriel Jesus and a goal from Liverpool frontman Roberto Firmino saw the Selecao emerge victorious in what was a key preparatory friendly as the five-time world champions build up to the 2019 Copa America
After flattering to deceive in last Saturday's 1-1 friendly draw against Panama where they fielded what was mostly a B-Team, Brazil reverted to their full strength starting line-up against the Czechs, bringing back Thiago Silva, Alex Sandro, Marquinhos, Danilo, Alisson and Allan into the first XI. Despite this, Brazil struggled to find any cohesion in the first half, dominating possession without really threatening the Czech goal. Trabzonspor and Czech left-back Filip Novak was especially impressive, nullifying the usually electric threat of Richarlison down the right-wing of Brazil's attack. Casemiro's long-distance free-kick in the 28th-minute had some wicked swerve but was easily parried away by Czech and Werder Bremen keeper Jiri Pavlenka. The Czechs were pacy and incisive in attack and took a deserved lead in the 30th minute, with David Pavlenka latching onto a deflected pass and slotting the ball smartly past Brazil keeper Alisson.
Czech Republic manager Jaroslav Silhavy had sent his team out with a clear plan to curtail Brazil's creative wingers down either flank with double man-marking tactics, with Philippe Coutinho the target of several rough tackles. Brazil manager Tite brought in Gremio winger Everton in place of an off-coloured Paqueta at the start of the second half as the Selecao looked to spark a recovery.
Brazil again struggled to put attacks together and it was only a poor defensive error that resulted in their equaliser. Liverpool forward Firmino's never-say-die attitude saw him run onto a lazy backpass by Czech left back Gebre Selassie. The in-form striker coolly finished passed Czech keeper Pavlenka to level the score at 1-1.
Post the equaliser, Brazil's attacks became more dangerous as the players started to play confidently on the ball. Coutinho's 60th-minute long-range shot was just turned around by Pavlenka. Ajax's Champions League sensation David Neres was brought in on the 64th-minute mark, while Real Madrid's midfield enforcer Casemiro came off for Barcelona's deep-lying playmaker Arthur in the 72nd minute as Tite looked to regain more control in midfield.
Coutinho, who had another disappointing outing, was subbed off for Manchester City striker Gabriel Jesus in the 74th minute as the Selecao searched for a winning goal. Neres almost scored a debut goal but his snapshot was smartly saved by Pavlenka. He was in the thick of the action again in the 83rd minute, running onto a brilliant Arthur pass to centre the ball for an onrushing Jesus, who smashed the ball into the roof of the net to make it 2-1 for Brazil. The South Americans turned tured on the samba magic for the third goal as a smart interplay between Jesus and Neres down the left flank saw the ball reach Allan in the box. The Napoli midfielder guided the ball into the path of Jesus, whose first shot was parried by Pavlenka back onto the Manchester City striker's path. He was not going to miss again and made it 3-1 for his side. It was not the greatest performance from Brazil but Tite's team showed character by coming back from behind and will take heart from the emergence of Neres as a new attacking threat. Jesus regaining his goalscoring touch would also be a welcome sight for Brazil.