Neymar showed just why the world’s top football clubs want to sign him with a virtuoso display as Brazil came from a goal behind to beat Belarus 3-1 at a packed Old Trafford yesterday.
Spanish giants Barcelona are the latest leading club to have expressed an interest in the20-year-old and it was easy to see why as, thanks largely to Neymar’s brilliance, they qualified for the quarter-finals of the Olympic tournament with a match to spare. Belarus took a shock lead in front of a crowd of more than 66,000 at the home ground of English giants Manchester United.
Well done: Brazil’s Neymar (right) celebrates his goal with teammate Oscar yesterday. PIC/AFP
But from then on Brazil battled back in this Group C clash, with Neymar setting the seal on a superb display with a 65th minute free-kick bent over the wall and beyond the reach of diving Belarus keeper Aleksandr Gutor.
Brazil, five-times the world champions but still seeking a first Olympic gold medal, were 1-0 down when Belarus’s Renan Bardini Bressan opened the scoring with an eighth minute header.
However, Neymar then took centre stage, crossing for AC Milan star Pato to equalise, then putting Brazil in front and also setting up Oscar for the clinching third goal.
Earlier at Old Trafford, Egypt’s last eight hopes suffered a setback when they were held to a 1-1 draw by New Zealand. The All Whites took the lead through a 16th minute strike from Chris Wood, who plays his club football for English Premier League West Bromwich Albion.
Mohamed Salah equalised from close range shortly before the break and the Africans could have had several more goals by the final whistle but instead squandered a host of chances. Now Egypt must beat Belarus on Wednesday to get to the quarter-finals while New Zealand will have to cause one of the great upsets by defeating Brazil if they are to go any further in this tournament than the group stage.
Elsewhere, Tottenham’s Giovani dos Santos scored both goals in Mexico’s 2-0 Group B win over Gabon at the City of Coventry Stadium.