World Cup Qualifiers: Firmino goals gives Brazil narrow win over Venezuela

Forward Roberto Firmino's late second half goal settled the match against Venezuela in Brazil's favour as the Seleccao extended its successful World Cup Qualifying run.

Roberto Firmino (Right) was on target against Venezuela as Brazil extended its undefeated World Cup Qualifying run to 20 matches.   -  Getty Images

Brazil required an untidy second half goal from Roberto Firmino to beat Venezuela 1-0 and extend its 100 per cent record to three wins from three in a lacklustre World Cup qualifier in Sao Paulo on Friday.

The five times world champion scored nine goals in its last two games but it struggled from the start against a resilient Venezuela, the only one of the 10 South American sides never to have qualified for the World Cup finals.

Richarlison had Brazil ahead in the seventh minute only for the goal to be chalked off for offside and the same players foul on the keeper caused a second from Douglas Luiz to be ruled out five minutes before half time.

The winner eventually came from Firmino midway through the second half when he was well-placed to push the ball home from close range after a defensive header fell at his feet.

“We were able to compete and do them damage for a while, said Venezuelan midfielder Luis Mago. We made one mistake and paid a heavy price for it.”

The win means Brazil has nine points from nine. It has not lost a World Cup qualifier since a 2-0 loss to Chile in 2015, 20 games ago.

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The result leaves it top of the South American qualifying group after three games, while Venezuela, the only one of the 10 South American teams yet to score a goal, languishes joint second bottom with Peru, with just one point.

Bolivia is the only pointless team after three matches.

 

The top four sides in the 10-team group qualify automatically for the finals in Qatar in 2022 and the fifth-placed team go into an inter-regional playoff.

Brazils next game is away to Uruguay on Tuesday, while Venezuela is at home to Chile the same day.

Earlier in the night, Chile beat Peru 2-0 thanks to a double from Arturo Vidal.

Vidal struck twice in the first half, the first a glorious shot into the top corner from almost 30 meters out, to leave Peru with just one point from its first three matches.

Chile, which missed out on Russia in 2018, is in sixth with four points.

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