Neymar becomes youngest to 100 Brazil caps in friendly draw

SINGAPORE: Neymar became the youngest player to make 100 appearances for Brazil on Thursday but the Paris St Germain forward had to settle for a 1-1 draw as he failed to score in a friendly with Senegal in Singapore.

Roberto Firmino opened the scoring for the Copa America champions after eight minutes when he ran on to a pass from Gabriel Jesus and chipped the ball past goalkeeper Alfred Gomis from close range.

As the half progressed, the livelier Senegal became, driven on by their captain Cheikhou Kouyate.

Senegal levelled with a penalty by Famara Diedhiou on the stroke of halftime after Marquinhos brought down Sadio Mane.

Neymar, who was not in the side that won the Copa America in June, had a relatively quiet game but went close with a 67th minute free-kick.

He then teed up Richarlison whose shot from the edge of the box flashed wide.

Both sides had chances to get a winner but Senegal will rue missing an opportunity to beat the five-times world champions.

Africa’s highest ranked team matched a full-strength Brazil throughout, with Mane hitting the post with five minutes left.

Although he failed to get on the scoresheet, it was still a big day for the 27-year-old Neymar, who became one of seven Brazilians to reach 100 caps.

He has scored 61 goals for the Selecao, making him the third highest scorer in the history of his national team.

Neymar is one behind Ronaldo but needs 16 to catch Pele who only played 92 matches. He has also provided 41 assists.

He won an Olympic gold medal in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 but has experienced many disappointments for his national team, particularly at the World Cup.

In 2014, in Brazil, a back injury in the quarter-finals against Colombia prevented him from being on the field for the 7-1 semi-final thrashing from Germany.

He scored twice during the tournament in Russia four years later, but Brazil were dumped out at the quarter-final stage by Belgium.

The draw stretched Brazil’s run without a win to three games, the longest since coach Tite took over in 2016. Tite acknowledged that his team’s performance was below par against Senegal.

After lifting the Copa America title in July, Brazil have drawn 2-2 with Colombia and lost 1-0 to Peru. They will have a chance to end the winless streak on Sunday in a friendly against Nigeria, also in Singapore.

 

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