Neymar's wonder goal on return from injury helps Brazil beat Croatia 2-0
• PSG forward comes on as a substitute in 2-0 win at Anfield
• Roberto Firmino also scores as Brazil tune up for World Cup
Neymar marked his return from a foot injury in spectacular fashion as Brazil beat Croatia 2-0 in a friendly at Anfield.
The Paris Saint-Germain forward produced a superb individual effort in the 68th minute of his first outing since he fractured a metatarsal playing for the French champions in February.
Much to the delight of the sizeable home support the Liverpool playmaker Roberto Firmino added the second in added time to wrap up a comfortable win for the Brazilians before the World Cup in Russia.
Neymar had started on the bench as he eases back into contention but there was also a start for the former Liverpool midfielder Philippe Coutinho on his return to Anfield.
It was the Croatians – limbering up for a tough group involving Argentina, Nigeria and Iceland – who threatened first but an Ante Rebic chance was snuffed out by Thiago Silva.
Also playing on home soil, the Croatian defender Dejan Lovren came close to snatching the lead when he headed inches over from a corner. Despite relatively few first-half chances the intent within the game was not understated and Ivan Perisic and Fernandinho were booked by the referee, Michael Oliver, in a tetchy end to the first half.
Neymar's introduction added urgency to the Brazilian forward line which only increased when Firmino replaced Gabriel Jesus on the hour. Neymar broke the deadlock in style when he was fed by Coutinho on the left and cut inside, beating Sime Vrsaljko before lashing the ball home off the crossbar.
“He came back better than I expected. I expected much less, because it is a process,” Brazil's head coach, Tite, said.
“He has to go through stages. He is going to have ups and downs. By the third, fourth or fifth game then he will be back to his level.
“He is a player that is different to the rest but he can't be given all the responsibility to decide the game. That's not humane, he is a key part but not everything.”
Chances remained at a premium in what, Neymar apart, was a low-key encounter with both sides evidently having their minds on other things. But there was the finish that the home fans wanted deep in stoppage time when Firmino met Casemiro's lofted cross and chipped home with a beautiful finish.
Tite also praised Manchester City's Danilo, who featured at right-back with Real Madrid's Marcelo operating as an attacking left-back. “Danilo's defensive work was close to perfection,” the head coach said. “He was very good.”