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Last-gasp Neymar penalty helps Brazil edge Argentina

September 21, 2012

GOIANIA (Brazil), Sept 20: A last-ditch penalty converted by Neymar handed Brazil an unconvincing 2-1 win over South American rivals Argentina in the first leg of the Superclassic of the Americas on Wednesday night.

Neymar’s penalty on the final kick of the match could not however drown out the jeers from a home crowd disappointed by the performance of the 2014 World Cup hosts in a home-and-away series between the two nations.

The victory was still some form of revenge for Brazil, who were beaten 4-3 by Argentina in June thanks to a Lionel Messi hat-trick.

This time Argentina were without their European stars but the unimaginative performance of the Brazilians drew the wrath of the home crowd.

“The team played well, it’s difficult to take on a rival who defended so well,” said Brazilian coach Mano Menezes. “The fans have their preferences but my job is to try to make the national team improve.”

As Brazil struggled, the crowd jeered Menezes and called for World Cup-winning manager Luiz Felipe Scolari, who is free after leaving Palmeiras last week, chanting “Goodbye, Mano” and “Come back, Felipao.”

Neymar said: “I don’t think you should jeer during the game, you’ve got to wait till it’s over. No one likes to be jeered, no one likes to be criticised, that’s why we give our best (possible) on the field.”

Despite lining out with five defenders, Argentina opened the scoring after 19 minutes through striker Juan Manuel Martinez. Brazil midfielder Paulinho equalised with a header off a Neymar cross after 26 minutes.

Although dominating after the break, Brazil were rarely dangerous until the penalty awarded following a handball from Argentine defender Leandro Desabato three minutes into extra time which allowed Neymar to step up and convert.

The second leg will be played on October 3 in Resistencia, Argentina. —AFP