Brazil continued their renaissance under new coach Mano Menezes when they beat Ukraine 2-0 in the unlikely setting of Derby County’s Pride Park on a chilly Monday night in the English midlands.
A superb volley by Dani Alves after 25 minutes and a 64th-minute shot on the turn from Alexandre Pato, who scored for the third successive international, gave the 2014 World Cup hosts a deserved victory over the co-hosts of Euro 2012.
Brazil, rediscovering the flowing, expansive game the world loves to watch, showed flashes of magic against a resilient Ukraine side who gave a better account of themselves than they did in Friday’s 2-2 draw against Canada.
Brazil’s victory, following Thursday’s 3-0 win over Iran in Abu Dhabi, was no classic. But with Robinho, Ramires and Pato combining well going forward and Alves excellent at the back, it was another pleasing performance for Menezes after the unpopular counter-attacking game favored by previous coach Dunga.
“I am satisfied with the game and the way my team played,” Menezes told reporters. “We had three days to prepare for it and we have a lot of young players. I am pleased with the way things are developing.”
He said his only disappointment was the size of the crowd, which numbered just over 13,000.
“That surprised me, I thought more people would turn up to see Brazil, but I am pleased we gave a good game for the people who did show up,” Menezes said.
The five-times world champions began to turn on the style when Alves fired over the bar after 10 minutes following a slick build-up and David Luiz went close when his shot on the turn went just over 13 minutes later.
Brazil’s dominance, with Lucas Leiva having an outstanding game in midfield, finally paid dividends after 25 minutes when Robinho’s perfectly measured cross-field pass found Alves, whose angled volley took a slight deflection before rebounding off the far post and into the net.
They should have doubled their lead after 35 minutes when Pato seized on a poor back pass from Anatoliy Tymoschuk but shot against the post.
Ukraine’s caretaker coach Yuri Kalitvintsev made six changes to the side that played Canada — including the enforced absence of injured captain Andriy Shevchenko — and they created chances of their own, especially in the first half.
They thought they had equalized when Olexandr Aliev’s shot whistled past Brazilian goalkeeper Victor and into the net just before halftime but the goal was ruled out for an earlier infringement.
Ukraine went close again just after the break when Ruslan Rotan hit the same post at the same place as Pato in the first half, before Brazil sealed the victory.
Eduardo set up the goal with a perfect pass for Pato who turned defender Vitaliy Mandzyuk and fired into the corner giving goalkeeper Andriy Dykan no chance.
The match was originally due to be played in the Middle East but was switched to England when the plans failed to materialize.
It was not played in London because of England’s Euro 2012 qualifier against Montenegro at Wembley yesterday.
Brazil’s next match is back in the Middle East when they face arch rivals Argentina in a friendly in Doha next month.
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