International friendlies round-up: Neymar scores on Brazil return

Neymar celebrated his eagerly-anticipated return from injury with a superb goal for Brazil in their World Cup warm-up against Croatia on Sunday.

The world’s most expensive player has been sidelined since February 25, when he fractured a metatarsal and sprained his ankle playing for Paris Saint-Germain in a Ligue 1 match against Marseille.

Neymar came on as a half-time substitute and provided the moment of inspiration for win the game in the 69th minute.

Willian, impressive throughout for Brazil, picked the ball up in midfield and played to Neymar in the inside-left channel. The 26-year-old cut inside and skipped past two defenders before blasting the ball home off the underside of the crossbar.

Neymar’s goal was the 54th for his country and he needs one more to reach Romario as the third-most prolific Brazil striker of all time behind Pele and Ronaldo.

Another substitute, Roberto Firmino, delighted the Liverpool fans in the Anfield crowd by adding the second in stoppage-time with a well-taken lob from inside the area.

Brazil’s opening game in World Cup Group E is against Switzerland and they also face Costa Rica and Serbia in the first round. The five-times world champions have one more friendly before the tournament, against Austria in Vienna on June 10.

Peru also picked up a pre-World Cup win against fellow tournament hopefuls Saudi Arabia, winning 3-0 in St Gallen, Switzerland with returning captain Paolo Guerrero scoring two of the goals just three days after getting a reprieve from a 14-month doping ban.

The 34-year-old scored Peru’s second and third goals after Andre Carrillo had opened the scoring with a stunning volley. It was Guerrero’s first appearance for Peru since the World Cup qualifier in Argentina last October.

Elsewhere, Andriy Shevchenko’s Ukraine beat Albania 4-1 in their international friendly, with Yevhen Konoplyanka and Andriy Yarmolenko both scoring twice.

Konoplyanka opened the scoring in the 31st minute before his team-mate added Ukraine’s second four minutes later. Yarmolenko nabbed his second in the first minute of first-half injury time to see the visitors in control.

Emanuele Ndoj pulled one back for Albania in the 88th minute but Konoplyanka rounded off proceedings on the 90-minute mark to seal the victory.