Fortaleza (Brazil), Oct 14 (IANS) Midfielder Willian scored two first-half goals as Brazil secured the first win of their 2018 World Cup football qualifying campaign against Venezuela. Christian Santos pulled a goal back before veteran striker Ricardo Oliveira sealed a 3-1 victory for the five-time World Cup winners here on Tuesday, reports Xinhua. 

Just five days after a 0-2 defeat to Chile in their opening South American zone qualifier, Brazil were far from convincing in the sapping Fortaleza heat. But they will take heart from a performance that at least saw them attempt to return to their attacking instincts. Coach Dunga will also be relieved to recall his captain and talisman Neymar for Brazil’s next outing against Argentina in Buenos Aires on November 13. 

Neymar has missed Brazil’s last four competitive matches after his sending off against Colombia in the Copa America tournament in June. It took only a minute for Brazil to open the scoring in front of a vocal crowd at the Castelao Arena. Luiz Gustavo cut out an errant Venezuelan pass and the ball fell to Willian, who beat his marker before firing an unstoppable 20-yard shot past Alain Baroja. Brazil dominated possession but were unable to capitalise until just before half time. Again it was Willian who inflicted the damage. 

Filipe Luis started the move by beating two defenders on the left flank before squaring the ball to the top of the penalty box. Oscar intelligently lets the ball pass between his legs and Willian needed only one touch before driving a fizzing shot into the top corner. Brazil continued to dictate terms after the interval. But Santos left the home fans in stunned silence just beyond the hour mark when, against the run of play, he struck from close range after Oswaldo Vizcarrondo’s headed pass. The hosts regained their two-goal buffer via Ricardo Oliveira’s header at the far post after Fernando Amorebieta failed to clear a Douglas Costa cross. 

Meanwhile, Argentina are still searching for their first win of the qualifying campaign after a 0-0 draw against Paraguay in Asuncion. Gerardo Martino’s side looked toothless in attack without their injured four-time world footballer of the year award winner Lionel Messi. 

In other South American zone qualifiers on Tuesday, Ecuador won 2-0 at home against Bolivia and Uruguay routed Columbia 3-0 in Montevideo.

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