Brazil got their 2013 Confederations Cup defence off to a perfect start in front of 67,423 fans at the Estádio Nacional de Brasília as they put three goals past the Japanese without reply to become the early leaders of Group A. With home advantage, and just one year before the World Cup kicks off, the pressure to deliver had been high but any nerves were calmed early on when Fred chested down a Marcelo cross for Neymar to fire into the top corner in only the third minute. It was the first goal in nine internationals for the symbol of Brazil‘s latest generation of talent and the quality of the strike is a step towards proving that he can cope with the weight of expectations.
To their credit, Japan didn’t crumble and fought back strongly, creating some good chances of their own whilst keeping the score at 1-0 until half time. However, they started the second half as badly as they had started the first and Corinthians midfielder Paulinho made it 2-0 from a Dani Alves cross in the 48th minute. The Brazilians looked comfortable for most of the rest of the encounter and rested all three of their forwards in the last quarter of an hour, bringing on Lucas Moura and Hernanes to strengthen the midfield. It was the third substitute, Atletico Mineiro striker Jo, who completed the scoring in injury time when he was set up nicely by Chelsea’s Oscar.
Brazil will face Mexico in their second group match on Wednesday, with Japan taking on Italy just afterwards. Mexico and Italy face off in their opening match later on today. The top two in the group will go through to the semi finals.
Brazil: Júlio César, Dani Alves, Thiago Silva, David Luiz, Marcelo, Luiz Gustavo, Paulinho, Oscar, Fred (Jo 81), Hulk (Hernanes 75), Neymar (Lucas 74).
Japan: Kawashima, Konno, Uchida, Yoshida, Nagatomo, Endo (Hosogai 78), Hasebe, Okazaki, Honda (Inui 88), Kiyotake (Maeda ’51), Kagawa.