BRASILIA, Brazil (Sporting Alert) — Host nation Brazil got its FIFA Confederations Cup Group A campaign off to a winning start, following a 3-0 thrashing of a tired-looking Japan side at Estádio Nacional here on Saturday.
Neymar, Paulinho and Jo provided the goals for Brazil, who looked the fitter side on the day.
“Today’s game showed that the team’s coming together slowly but surely,” Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari said.
“Getting an early goal helped us, but my feeling is that we’re sorting out some very important details. I’m sure we’re only going to improve.”
Speaking about his star player’s performance, Scolari added: “Neymar? Well, like I’ve said before, he’s a fantastic player. He might be off form now and then, but there’s no question he’s a star.
“He’s always going to make the difference. What matters to me, though, is the team. I liked our commitment, vitality and our strength as a unit on the pitch.
Barcelona forward Neymar got the ball rolling with a stunning opener in the third minute when he fired home a marksman striker past the outstretched Eiji Kawashima to send the pack wild.
Japan almost struck immediately when Keisuke Honda saw his brilliant free-kick punched away by goalkeeper Júlio César.
Brazil dominated much of the play there after and hosts grabbed another goal through Paulinho three minutes into the second half to knock the stuffing out of Japan.
Substitute Jo then grabbed his team’s third – firing under the rushing Kawashima, following a through pass by Oscar in the final few seconds of the game.
Japan coach Alberto Zaccheroni said after the defeat: “It’s difficult to stand back and make an analysis right now, but I don’t think the team showed everything we’d been working on in the build-up.
“The excitement of the opening game against such a strong side and with such a big reputation as Brazil got to us. They made the most of being at home. We didn’t perform as well as we needed to.”
Brazil v Japan
Brazil: Julio Cesar, Dani Alves, Thiago Silva, Luiz, Marcelo, Oscar, Gustavo, Paulinho, Fred, Neymar, Hulk
Subs: Jefferson, Fernando, Lucas Moura, Hernanes, Dante, Filipe Luis, Jean, Rever, Bernard, Jo, Jadson, Cavalieri
Japan: Kawashima, Konno, Nagatomo, Uchida, Yoshida, Endo, Honda, Kiyotake, Kagawa, Hasebe, Okazaki
Subs: Nishikawa, Inoha, Gotuko Sakai, Havenaar, Hosogai, Nakamura, Kurihara, Maeda, Inui, Takahashi, Hiroki Sakai, Gonda
Referee: Pedro Proenca (Portugal)