Neymar made a goalscoring return from injury and Roberto Firmino scored at the Kop end as Brazil beat Croatia 2-0 in an entertaining World Cup warm-up match at Anfield on Sunday.
Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar, who had been sidelined with ankle and metatarsal issues since February 25, made his long-awaited comeback as a half-time substitute and took just 24 minutes to net a brilliant strike.
Running onto a pass from Philippe Coutinho, the No.10 turned Croatia defender Sime Vrsaljko this way and that before shifting the ball to his right foot and firing a powerful shot into the roof of the net.
The talismanic 26-year-old looked to have claimed the decisive goal on his return but Liverpool striker Firmino came off the bench to score with an audacious injury-time chip over goalkeeper Danijel Subasic that raised the roof at his home ground.
It was a timely reminder from the pair after Brazil boss Tite had opted to start Coutinho, Gabriel Jesus and Willian at the head of his 4-3-3 system.
And it was the latter of that starting trio who sparked the game into life after nine minutes of prodding and probing in the Merseyside sunshine. The Chelsea forward took possession in midfield and danced through a couple of challenges to drive at the Croatia back four and get the fans off their seats for the first time.
Willian looked to finish the move himself but failed to make the required contact on a low cross from Jesus with a clever flicked finish through his legs.
Croatia responded immediately on the counter-attack. Andrej Kramaric raced onto Luka Modric’s lofted pass from midfield but his failure to shoot first time from the right of the box gave Thiago Silva just enough time to recover and expertly snuff out the chance.
Hoffenheim striker Kramaric remained lively throughout a good spell for Croatia – during which Dejan Lovren headed just past the post at the Kop end – and the pair tangled again moments later.
This time Thiago was left clutching his ankle and Kramaric was shown a yellow card as Zlatko Dalic’s tough-tackling side perpetrated the first of a flurry of firm challenges on the Brazilians.