MUMBAI: Brenner da Silva struck twice as Brazil commenced their tune-up for the FIFA U17 World Cup with an impressive 2-1 victory over New Zealand in a practice game here today. All the goals in the match were scored in the second half with Brenner netting early in the period and midway through it and the Kiwis reducing the margin through a penalty converted by captain Max Mata at the fag end of the game. Brazil impressed as was expected but New Zealand were not outclassed in the opening half.
An early leg injury to defender Wesley proved a blessing in disguise for the South American champions as his replacement, Marcos Antonio, started to galvanise the team immediately after stepping on to the field. The short-statured Antonio showed splendid ball control and balance and moved the ball around with vision, but lack of sharpness up front kept the score-sheet blank till half time. Antonio also unleashed two long-range efforts, the second of which sailed inches over the cross bar, after hoodwinking three defenders with deft body feints and dribbling skill. The Kiwis had one good look at the rival goal but forward Charles Spragg, left unmarked, shot the ball wide of the left post from just outside the box.
Brazil made a couple of substitutions early in the second half which resulted in better cohesion in their ranks. The first goal of the game to break the deadlock was scored soon after resumption of play. A delightful passing bout between second half substitutes Alan de Souza and Victor Bobsin resulted in Brenner uncorking a short-range angular left-footed shot to beat rival goalie Jacob Clark. With Alan spraying passes left, right and centre from the midfield, Brazil started toying with the Kiwis and it was no wonder when the New Zealand citadel fell again, Brenner again finding the mark for his second goal of the match, midway through the second half. New Zealand got a consolation goal late in the match through a penalty award converted by their captain Mata.
The Brazilians’ only worry appeared to be the energy- sapping heat which seemed to affect a few players and a somewhat unsure defense which came under some pressure from the Kiwis but held on till the fag end when it conceded a penalty. The two teams also indulged in a spot-kick duel after the game which too was won by the Brazilians 5-4. While Brazil are moving to Kochi for their group games, New Zealand will remain here to take on England in another practice game at the Mumbai Football Arena in Andheri. New Zealand are to play all their preliminary group games at the D Y Patil Stadium in neighbouring Navi Mumbai.