REUTERS – Willian scored after 40 seconds and added a second just before the break as Brazil beat Venezuela 3-1 to pocket their first points in South American qualifiers for the 2018 World Cup.
After their 2-0 defeat to Chile last week, Brazil, again without the suspended Neymar, raced out of the blocks at the Castelao in Fortaleza and Willian slotted home between Velezuela goalkeeper Alain Baroja and his near post.
Three minutes before halftime the midfielder doubled Brazil’s lead. Defender Filipe Luis crossed the ball, Oscar let it run and Willian tucked it away.
Venezuela pulled one back in the 64th minute when Christian Santos turned the ball into the net at a corner but striker Ricardo Oliveira restored Brazil’s two-goal cushion nine minutes later, ghosting in behind defender Fernando Amorebieta and stooping to head past Baroja.
It was a timely win for Dunga’s Brazil ahead of their visit to Buenos Aires next month to play arch-rivals Argentina, who have yet to score in two games.
The 2014 World Cup finalists were stunned 2-0 by Ecuador in their opener and held 0-0 in Paraguay on Tuesday.
Dunga will be able to call on Neymar for that match after he completed his suspension from the Copa America, while Argentina will hope Lionel Messi recovers from an injury that has kept him out of their two qualifiers so far.
(Reporting by Rex Gowar; Editing by Peter Rutherford)