Brazil vs. Peru: Winners and Losers from 2018 World Cup Qualifier
Douglas Costa scored a goal and set up two more as Brazil finished 2015 on a high with a 3-0 home victory over Peru on Tuesday in South American qualifying for the 2018 World Cup.
Costa bundled home the opener in the 22nd minute before assisting Renato Augusto for Brazil's second 13 minutes into the second half. Filipe Luis completed the scoring in the 77th minute, firing home on the rebound after Costa's initial shot was saved.
Here, Bleacher Report selects winners and losers from the match.
Winner: Douglas Costa
Costa was the man of the match after scoring once and creating Brazil's other two goals.
The Bayern Munich man knew little about his goal, in fairness, bundling over the line in the 22nd minute after Willian's cross reached him through a crowded box. But he created further danger in the 39th minute, curling a free-kick off the far post from a tight angle on the right.
Costa then set up Brazil's second goal with a fine moment of individual skill, cutting inside from the left before laying off for Augusto. The latter passed the ball into the bottom corner to finish off the chance.
He was at it again in the 77th minute, cutting inside from the left again before stinging Diego Penny's palms with a fierce shot. The rebound fell to Luis, who fired in from close range for 3-0.
All together, it amounted to a productive night of work for Costa, who is making a strong case for a consistent starting spot in Brazil's lineup. According to Brazil blogger BrazilStats, Tuesday represented "Douglas Costa's best game in a Brazil shirt."
Loser: Neymar's Set Pieces
Neymar has been in top form at club level, scoring key goals for Barcelona in the absence of the injured Lionel Messi. That hasn't been the case with Brazil, as the 23-year-old has struggled to produce his best in the two matches since he returned from a four-game suspension.
That's not to say Neymar played poorly, only that he didn't live up to his lofty standards. His set piece deliveries, however, were consistently substandard.
In the 32nd minute, the Barca man went directly for goal from a free kick on the left. He missed the target badly with a curling shot. He produced the same outcome in the 50th minute, ballooning a poor effort well over the bar. Once again four minutes later, he overhit a free-kick from deep on the right, sending the ball over all of his teammates in the box.
Neymar will have to improve his set pieces as Brazil continue their quest for qualification.
Winner: Brazil's Clean Sheet
Brazil's defense kept a clean sheet despite a long list of big names missing from the squad.
Center-back David Luiz missed out through suspension after seeing red against Argentina last week. Manager Dunga once again opted not to call Thiago Silva into the squad. Marcelo and Marquinhos, meanwhile, were injured.
And yet a back four featuring Miranda, Gil, Luis and Dani Alves kept Peru from scoring. That's a win for Brazil. In addition, 23-year-old goalkeeper Alisson Becker—surely a prospect for the future—recorded his first shutout for the team.
While Dunga has drawn criticism for the style that Brazil play under his guidance, the manager deserves credit for coaxing a clean sheet out of his mishmash defense on Tuesday night.
Loser: Peru's Away Record in Qualifiers (and Against Brazil)
Peru's away record in World Cup qualifying matches is ugly. Tuesday's loss was their 29th in 35 qualifiers away from home, with their last away win coming in June 2004 against Uruguay.
The team's record against Brazil is no better. According to 11v11.com, Brazil have beaten Peru 29 times, while losing just three and drawing nine.
Such a poor record against Brazil is somewhat understandable. The Selecao are the most successful team in World Cup history, having won a record five titles.
But if Peru want to qualify for a World Cup, they'll have to find a way to improve their form away from home.
Winner: Renato Augusto
In September, Brazil called midfielder Augusto into the squad for the first time since 2011. The 27-year-old came on as a substitute in the Selecao's 1-1 draw with Argentina on Nov. 14 before starting and playing the full 90 minutes against Peru.
Augusto repaid his manager's faith by scoring a good goal in the 57th minute, placing the ball into the bottom corner from Costa's excellent layoff. The Corinthians man also set up Neymar for a goal with a great through pass, but the strike was ruled out for offside.
On Tuesday's evidence, Augusto could be a more regular fixture in Brazil's lineup during the current qualification campaign.
In the run-up to Tuesday's match, Dunga denied he was under pressure. Brazil had won just one of their first three qualifiers, and the manager had to face questions about his job security.
"We are at the beginning. The championship will be long, complicated as it always is," he said in a press conference, per beIN Sports. "We see a lot now, but if past qualifiers are analysed, [we] also had problems in the beginning."
Perhaps that's so, but it's certain that Tuesday's win relieved some of the pressure on Dunga's shoulders. Beating Peru is expected, but Brazil played with flair in the second half and walked away with a 3-0 win. That will silence the coach's detractors, at least for the moment.
With the victory, Brazil moved up to third place on seven points, ahead of Chile and Paraguay on goal differential. Brazil won't play again until March, and after Tuesday's confident and stylish win, Dunga seems certain to remain in his post until then.