Brazil become first nation to qualify for 2018 World Cup with comfortable win over Paraguay

Sports Staff
Neymar helped Brazil become the first nation to qualify for the 2018 World Cup: Getty

Brazil became the first nation to qualify for next year's World Cup in Russia with a dominant 3-0 win over Paraguay.

Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho curled in a low opener and Neymar capped an eventful evening with a goal in the second half before Marcelo added a late third.

Barcelona forward Neymar, captaining the side, missed a penalty and saw an effort chalked off for off-side on an evening when he was routinely on the end of rough treatment from the Paraguay defenders.

Neymar enjoyed a rollercoaster evening (Getty)

Their 10th win of the qualifying programme takes Brazil nine points clear at the top of the South American standings and coupled with Uruguay's defeat to Peru sealed their place in Russia next summer.

Paraguay, meanwhile, now find themselves five points off the top four with only four games remaining after being outclassed in Sao Paolo.

Paulinho headed over from a Neymar free-kick after six minutes and when the latter tried his luck from 30 yards at another set-piece Antony Silva made a routine save.

A rare foray forward from the visitors resulted in Derlis Gonzalez finding himself clean through but he dragged a tame effort wide.

At the other end another Neymar free-kick was beaten away by Silva before the goalkeeper kept out Marquinhos' header from Miranda's cross.

The breakthrough came after 34 minutes when Coutinho finished a flowing Brazil move by playing a one-two with Neymar and firing home from 20 yards.

Neymar celebrates after his goal (Getty)

Neymar sliced a half-volley wide from the edge of the box after half-time and then moments later pushed Coutinho's low cross wide at the back post with the goal at his mercy, colliding with the frame of the goal in doing so.

The 25-year-old won a 51st-minute penalty when he was scythed down by Rodrigo Rojas, but saw his effort saved by Silva diving to his right.

Philippe Coutinho scored Brazil's opener (Getty)

Neymar's goal finally came after 64 minutes when he broke from the halfway line, beat two defenders in the box, and saw his shot deflect past the wrong-footed Silva.

He thought he had a second eight minutes later after a clearance deflected to him and he cut from the left to curl a finish into the far post, but after consulting with his assistant the referee correctly ruled the ball had come off a Brazil player with the forward in an off-side position.

Fagner shot straight at Silva when one-on-one with the keeper but Marcelo dinked in a late third.

PA

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