Coutinho magic helps Brazil crush South Korea
Brazil ended their five-match winless run with a 3-0 win over South Korea
Relegated to the bench and unable to make an impact as a second half substitute four days ago against Argentina in the 'Superclasico', Philippe Coutinho, the former Liverpool dazzler who is now fighting for his place in the starting eleven at Bayern Munich, produced moments of magic to help Brazil outclass South Korea 3-0 and end their five-match winless run in emphatic fashion.
Goals from Lucas Paqueta, Coutinho and Danilo at the Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi put a smile on the face of Brazil coach Tite who desperately wanted to end the team's poor run before the start of the 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign.
Still a formidable force in world football, Brazil are no longer the connoisseurs' dream.
But what the Copa America champions still possess is players that have sublime individual ability.
And Coutinho is one of them.
The 27-year-old playmaker's club career may hit a roadblock, but on a cool Tuesday evening his magical footwork on the edge of the South Korean box in the ninth minute gave Renan Lodi the freedom to send a sumptuous cross which was headed home by AC Milan midfielder Paqueta.
Paqueta has been under immense pressure to prove his worth after the legendary Rivaldo hit out at Tite for giving the number 10 jersey to the AC Milan player.
Naturally, Paqueta's joy knew no bounds after his diving header found the back of the net, but it was Brazil's number 11 - Coutinho - who would earn the plaudits for the opener.
The tenacity of the South Koreans kept Brazil on their toes and if only the Asian team had a few more world-class players like their Tottenham striker Son Heung-min, they would have given Brazil a run for their money.
Son's lung-busting runs did trouble the Brazilians every now and then. But Brazil, which made four changes to the team that lost to Argentina in Riyadh, sending even Roberto Firmino to the bench, managed to weather The Son Storm.
Coutinho, on the other hand, was unstoppable as he sent a gorgeous right footer from a free kick in the 36th minute for his first goal in 10 games.
It was also Brazil's first goal from a free kick since September 14.
With Brazil enjoying the lion's share of possession in the second half, Danilo, the 28-year-old Juventus right-back, put the cherry on the cake in the 60th minute with a lovely finish from outside the box.
"We have played the Asian teams in the 2022 World Cup qualifiers, but today we were up against the best team," South Korean coach Paulo Bento admitted after the match.
The only worry for Brazil was the uninspired display from Man City striker Gabriel Jesus who was unable to make an impact from the right side of the pitch.
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