MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — Neymar scored in the 83rd minute to give Brazil a 1-0 victory over Colombia on Friday night in an exhibition game before 73,429 fans at Sun Life Stadium.
Neymar’s free kick from 22 yards landed inside the upper right post and past the outstretched hands of goalkeeper David Ospina. Neymar was making his first appearance for the national team since sustaining a serious back injury in a 2-1 victory over Colombia in the World Cup quarterfinals.
“What makes Neymar special is he possesses the natural skills few players have,” Brazil coach Dunga said.
After Neymar was hurt, Brazil was eliminated by eventual World Cup champion Germany, falling 7-1 in the semifinals.
Colombia had one opportunity at the equalizer after Neymar’s goal, but Radamel Falcao’s header inside the 6-yard box sailed above the crossbar in the 89th minute. Falcao, who entered the match in the 76th minute for James Rodriguez, rejoined the national team after sitting out the World Cup because of a knee injury.
“It was a very competitive match and Brazil deserved the victory,” Colombia coach Jose Pekerman said. “We did the best we could. Obviously, the expulsion complicated things.”
The match began the second stint for Dunga as Brazil’s coach. Dunga previously guided Brazil in the World Cup cycle that ended after a quarterfinal finish in the 2010 tournament.
“With only two days of training as a group, you couldn’t formalize much for the match,” Dunga said. “But we maintained our composure and displayed a sound quality of play.”
Colombia played a man down for the final 40 minutes after Juan Cuadrado’s second yellow card infraction for his foul on Neymar.
Brazil immediately took advantage when Ospina deflected David Luiz’s free kick and cleared a possible follow-up from Fernandinho in the 58th minute. Maicon retrieved Ospina’s clear and his 15-yard shot sailed wide left.
Brazil controlled the ball early the repeated pressure resulted in three corner kicks in the opening 12 minutes. Oscar had Brazil’s first direct shot on goal when Ospina caught his indirect free kick from 25 yards in the 13th minute.
Cuadrado had Colombia’s first scoring opportunity in the 22nd minute when his indirect free kick sailed wide off the left post.
Oscar had another scoring opportunity in the 33rd minute. Neymar fed him with a touch pass deep in the Colombia penalty but Oscar’s shot from eight yards missed its mark wide left.
Colombia intensified pressure in the final 10 minutes of the first half. Camilo Zubiga’s shot 2 yards inside the large area sailed above the crossbar in the 38th minute. Brazil goalkeeper Jefferson made a diving stop on Cuadrado’s 18-yard shot in the 41st minute.
Brazil will play Ecuador in the second of its two-match stop of friendlies Tuesday night at Met Life Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
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