Fri, Jun 12, 2015 - Page 18 News List

Brazil win final warm-up ahead of Copa America

AP, PORTO ALEGRE, Brazil

Brazil’s Neymar, left, battles for the ball with Mario Martinez of Honduras in their international friendly in Porto Alegre, Brazil, on Wednesday.

Photo: AP

Boosted by the return of Neymar, Brazil defeated Honduras 1-0 on Wednesday in their final warm-up before traveling to Chile for the Copa America.

Neymar, who joined the squad on Monday after helping Barcelona win the UEFA Champions League, entered the match at halftime, when Brazil were already ahead thanks to Roberto Firmino’s 33rd-minute goal at the Estadio Beira-Rio.

Neymar had missed Brazil’s win over Mexico in Sao Paulo on Sunday.

Brazil did not threaten too much, despite controlling the game played in steady rain. Honduras played well at times and created a few good scoring chances. Some fans jeered the Brazil team after the final whistle.

“We eased off the throttle a bit because we know the Copa America is the most important thing for us,” veteran Brazil striker Robinho said. “The team is practically ready. We’ve been improving match after match, and the tendency is for us to do well in the Copa America.”

Firmino broke the deadlock with a left-footed shot from inside the penalty area after a perfect feed from leftback Filipe Luis. It was Firmino’s third goal for the national team.

Neymar had a goal disallowed because of offside early in the second half and he came close to scoring in the 65th minute when his shot from inside the area was barely saved by the goalkeeper.

Brazil coach Dunga made several changes to the starting lineup from the team that beat Mexico, replacing midfielder Elias and striker Diego Tardelli with Casemiro and Firmino.

Rightback Danilo, who injured his ankle against Mexico, missed the game and is in danger of not recovering in time for the Copa America.

“Unfortunately, Danilo got hurt, but I’m prepared to play, I’m taking advantage of this opportunity,” replacement Fabinho said.

Barcelona’s Daniel Alves is expected to be called up by Dunga to replace Danilo in the Copa America squad.

Brazil had already lost other players because of injuries ahead of the tournament in Chile, including playmaker Oscar, leftback Marcelo and defensive midfielder Luiz Gustavo. Robinho did not play against Mexico because of a knee injury, but entered Wednesday’s match in the 71st minute.

Brazil’s opening match in the South American tournament is against Peru on Sunday, with Colombia and Venezuela the other teams in Group C.

The squad travels to Chile today.

Brazil have won four of the past six Copa Americas, including two of the past three, and will be eager to put on a good showing in their first official competition since the humiliating 7-1 defeat by Germany in last year’s FIFA World Cup semi-final.

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