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Neymar fires Brazil to victory over Croatia

04 June 2018

Brazil coach Tite nevertheless included him in the Selecao's World Cup preparation, which kicks off at the weekend with an encounter at Liverpool's home ground Anfield.

Marcelo Brozović, Ivan Perišić and Miranda from Inter exchanged laughs, and Dejan Lovren shamed his former Liverpool teammate Coutinho with a brilliant Instagram caption. "A special encounter with Brazilian and Croatian stars", said the Brazilian Football Federation.

But once the game had got underway it quickly became clear the formation was merely a guideline for Croatia's players as they shifted shapes throughout the match.

"Neymar? He'll start on the bench because he's still recovering, and will come on at half-time because we're preparing as a team", Tite told reporters at a press conference on Saturday.

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"It is lovely to watch him play again, he is special, one of the best in the world", Modric said.

In one move in the first half, Rakitic found himself in the opponents box just moments after starting the play from his own - though nothing did come from it.

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Croatia captain Luka Modric was among many impressed with Neymar. Faking out defenders and putting the ball where it is supposed to go.

But after the break, the Croatians began to defend deeper and allowed Brazil the space to begin to express themselves - a situation Neymar exploited to the full.

Despite the looming spectre of the World Cup, now less than two weeks away, the game proved a physical one.

Before Neymar's brilliant opener, Croatia might have struck first when Ante Rebic's header forced a fine save from Alisson.

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Neymar fires Brazil to victory over Croatia