Action from the pre-World Cup friendly between host Brazil (yellow jersey) and Panama on June 3, 2014, in Goiana. (Photo: FIFA via Getty Images)
GOIANIA, Brazil – In its penultimate warm-up match ahead of hosting the 2014 FIFA World Cup, Brazil defeated visiting Panama 4-0 on Tuesday at the Serra Dourada Stadium.
With the world’s single-largest sporting event approaching quickly, Neymar turned in a virtuoso performance, striking on a first-half free kick to open the scoring in spectacular fashion. Dani Alves doubled the lead shortly before the break, while Hulk and Willian followed with second-half goals to seal the result.
The near full-strength Brazilians got off to a slow start due in large part to the Canalaeros, who did well to hold possession throughout the opening ten minutes. With Panama governing the early tempo, it was only after a yellow card to the home side’s David Luiz in the 15th minute that momentum began to shift.
After being brought down near the edge of the box, Neymar got Brazil on the scoreboard in 24th minute by curling home a perfectly placed free kick that just beat the outstretched fingertips of Panama goalkeeper Óscar McFarlane.
Armando Cooper later sprayed a shot from distance high and wide for the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup runner-up, signaling the Brazilians to launch another attack. This time, it was Neymar’s teammate at Barcelona, Dani Alves, who inflicted the damage. The 31-year-old received a square pass from Hulk just outside the area and bounced an effort into the side netting to give the Selecao a 2-0 lead at the half-time whistle.
If the Brazilians were feeling any pressure ahead of their World Cup opener against Croatia in Sao Paulo on June 12, they hid it well, putting forth a second-half performance that was equal parts, clinical, and carefree. Following the break, Neymar quickly got back to work, playing Hulk through on goal with a deft back heel pass that the Zenit Saint Petersburg man poked home for his team’s third goal.
Panama came close to getting back in to the game in the 55th minute, when a set piece header nearly found the back of the net, but goalkeeper Julio Caesar made the diving save.
A 73rd minute goal from Willian proved enough as Brazil claimed both the victory and the clean sheet.
The Panamanians are idle until they return to South America for an August 6 match against Peru in Lima.