Brazil 3-1 Belarus - Neymar inspires as Seleção persevere
It wasn't easy for Brazil, but the Seleção eventually ran out comfortable victors over their Baltic rivals thanks to a show of creativity from Neymar, assisted by the ever-willing Oscar.
Belarus had put the cat amongst the pigeons by taking an early lead through midfielder Bressan - a naturalised Brazilian who did little to endear himself by kissing the badge of his adopted country.
A cross from the left found the Belarussian unmarked at the back-post, with Rafael unable to cover after Sandro had let his man run unmarked into the area.
Brazil, though, exercised a measure of control throughout and the possession statistics reflect the dominance of the tournament favourites. It was not long before the tide of pressure paid dividends with Pato getting ahead of his marker to turn home Neymar's perfectly weighted cross.
Going in at the break at 1-1, Brazil were late reappearing for the second-half as Mano Menezes kept his side back for some extra instruction. Neymar and the effervescent Oscar aside, the team was in need of a lift.
After twenty minutes of prodding and probing, on an afternoon where Brazil flung cross after cross into the area, the breakthrough came. A free-kick was awarded 25 yards out after a foul on Pato and up stepped Neymar to curl the ball wonderfully into the far corner.
Neymar had lit up Old Trafford and it was his cue to take centre-stage, with a dazzling array of runs and tricks that left the Belarus defence bemused. The European Under-21 championship runners-up, though, presented a wall around the area that proved difficult to breakdown.
A third goal came, though, in the final minute as Neymar embarked on another of his scintillating bursts down the left flank, cutting infield, before chopping the ball back to Oscar on the overlapping run to fire home with ease. Brazil were not at their best, particularly in midfield, but offered a taste of the quality they do possess.
There are areas for Mano Menezes to work on. Juan, in defence, looks shaky at times, whilst the balance of the side needs fine-tuning. However, if firing on full cylinders, Brazil will take some beating.