Firmino Brace Helps Brazil Hammer Bolivia in WC Qualifier

In their opening 2022 World Cup qualifier on Friday, Liverpool striker Roberto Firmino scored a brace as Brazil romped to a 5-0 win over Bolivia, AFP reports.

In an absolutely one-sided encounter that sent Brazil top of the South American qualifying table, Barcelona playmaker Philippe Coutinho and Paris Saint-Germain defender Marquinhos both got on the scoresheet while star forward Neymar set up two goals.

Bolivia showed almost no ambition in a deserted Corinthians Arena due to Covid-19 constraints, as Brazil dominated throughout, with Neymar of PSG beginning after overcoming a back problem.

Winger Everton volleyed wide from inside the six-yard box in the first minute, and three minutes later his cross was headed off-target by Marquinhos from a similar spot.

As Coutinho and Everton created a slew of chances down the left of Brazil, Bolivia could not get out of their half, or on the ball.

The pressure was recorded on 16 minutes as Marquinhos headed home from the same place as his previous chance as Danilo's full-back swung after a short corner over a cross from the right.

As Coutinho forced a diving one-handed save from goalkeeper Carlos Lampe with a deflected shot, even a first half downpour could not dampen Brazil's thrust.

At times it looked like a handball game with Brazil camping on the edge of the box of Bolivia, and at all times the visitors were keeping 10 men behind the ball.

But half an hour later, Renan Lodi, the left-back, came in behind the defense and turned his cross from the left back home from barely a yard outside Firmino.

Lampe made a fine one-handed save from a free-kick from Casemiro and then smothered Neymar's close-range finish.

Bolivia had less than 20 percent possession by the end of the first half, and their only shot at goal was a 40-yard free-kick by Fernando Salidas that didn't even beat the wall.

Brazil would stroll to victory if there were still any questions, they would be dispelled three minutes into the second period when a magnificent pass from Neymar provided Firmino with a tap-in from six yards.

On 65 minutes, a cross from Coutinho flew into the net off the unlucky Jose Carrasco's chest.

Coutinho then got on the scoresheet heading home a cross from Neymar from six yards.

As Brazil's second highest scorer of all time, Neymar's attempts to join retired great Ronaldo were disappointed by an offside flag and an injury time save by Lampe.

Atalanta pair Duvan Zapata and Luis Muriel shot Colombia to a 3-0 win over Venezuela in the night's other match.

Zapata slid in a Juan Cuadrado cross from inside the six-yard box on 16 minutes and a brace from Muriel had settled the match by half-time.

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