FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – It may not have been the Maracana, but Brazil certainly made themselves at home on Tuesday at Gillette Stadium.
Raul Meireles put Portugal on the board early, but Brazil responded with three unanswered goals en route to a 3-1 win before 62,310 fans, many of whom came out in droves to support the canary-clad footballers.
Meireles opened the scoring in the 18th minute to give the pro-Portugal partisans reason to cheer. But Brazil came back with a trio of goals from Thiago Silva (23′), Neymar (35′) and (49′). Neymar went 89 minutes before coming off the pitch to a standing ovation.
Portugal was without Cristiano Ronaldo, who scored three goals in last week’s 4-2 win over Northern Ireland, due to injury. And without him, A Selecção struggled to find opportunities inside the final third all night.
Nevertheless, they managed to get on the board early when Meireles ripped away an errant backpass and beat Julio Cesar before a stunned Brazil backline in the 18th minute.
But Brazil quickly regrouped and leveled it only five minutes later when Neymar sent a corner that curled right to Silva, who elevated over Portugal’s defenders and glanced it through.
Neymar, who used his speed and dribbling abilities to antagonize Portugal’s midfielders and defenders, scribbled his name on the scoresheet with halftime approaching. Taking the ball near center circle, he sliced through three defenders before breaking into the box and slotting it past Rui Patricio.
Brazil put the game away shortly after the interval when Maxwell raced along the left, then cut toward the near post before slipping it under a pair of defenders, who could do nothing when Jo arrived to tap it through just before the 50th minute.
Portugal looked toward Nani and Helder Postiga to find a way to close the gap. But with Brazil dropping numbers, Portugal only found walls of yellow shirts and frustration. In fact, Julio Cesar could barely be bothered for much of the second frame as Brazil cruised to the victory.