Brazil rose above the alley fight and thumped a physical Honduras side 5-0 on Saturday in front of more than 71,000 fans at an atmospheric Sun Life Stadium.
Bernard opened the scoring midway through the first half before Dante, Maicon, Willian and Hulk completed the rout with four goals in less than 20 minutes in the second half.
Honduras, yet to show the aggression that would come to define their performance on this night, started brightly in Miami, with Roger Espinoza and Emilio Izaguirre, in particular, making nuisances of themselves down the left-hand side of the pitch.
Then, after only 10 minutes, Jerry Bengtson quite nearly opened the scoring for the CONCACAF side when his header tickled Victor’s fingers as it sailed over the crossbar. Three minutes later, Jorge Claros came close to scoring as Honduras continued to show an attacking intent.
But that intent would soon turn to aggression, and in the 17th minute, Wilson Palacios was shown a yellow card for a cynical foul on Neymar.
It was to be the pattern for much of the first half.
Brazil, however, demonstrated that they would take the high road against their opponents and responded to the violence with the game’s first goal, courtesy of Bernard following Paulinho’s expert cross from the flank.
Neymar then forced Honduras goalkeeper Noel Valladares into making a fantastic stop as Brazil continued to pour on the pressure as the opening frame came to a close.
That pressure would result in a proper hiding after the restart, but first, Oscar Boniek threw Neymar to the ground like a rag doll and then gave the Barcelona man a jab as he tried to get back up.
But once again, Brazil’s reply was with offense—Dante’s header from Neymar’s free-kick taking deflections off Palacios and Carlos Costly before trickling into the back of the net in the 55th minute.
Shortly after the hour mark, the advantage was stretched to three when Maicon tapped the ball into goal after Valladares could only parry Paulinho’s shot into the Roma man’s path. And just four minutes later, Willian opened his account for Brazil after latching onto a superb ball from Hulk on the left.
But the best was yet to come, and it involved back-heeled passes from each of Willian, Ramires and Robinho as Hulk, himself, scored to give Brazil a 5-0 cushion and round out the scoring in a fascinating encounter in South Florida.
Key Player Grades
Hacked to the ground again and again, it’s a wonder Brazil manager Luiz Felipe Scolari didn’t remove Neymar at half-time. But the Barcelona attacker showed the right spirit against an overly physical opponent. He always got up from the floor and took the free-kick that led to Dante’s goal in the second half.
The Tottenham midfielder tends to play his best football at international level, and Saturday was no exception. Showing much more attacking impetus than he has so far in his Spurs career, Paulinho earned an assist on Bernard’s opener and handled himself honourably in a physical midfield battle.
Wilson Palacios: D
He completely disgraced himself in Miami, in front of a massive crowd and against a high-profile opponent. Instead of providing a useful shield in front of the defense and offering the odd, well-placed pass, the Stoke midfielder was the hard man’s hard man against Brazil and was fortunate to have not gotten himself sent off over the course of the 90 minutes.
|Brazil Player Grades|
|Honduras Player Grades|
Brazil will continue their North American tour with a stop in Toronto next Tuesday for a friendly match against Chile, who have also already booked their place in the World Cup. Honduras, meanwhile, will face Ecuador in their next friendly.