Brazil stutter to 1-0 win over Costa Rica

Brazil national team jersey (File)
Brazil national team jersey (File)

New Jersey - Hulk celebrated his return to the Brazil side with a 10th-minute strike to give Dunga's men a 1-0 victory over Costa Rica on Saturday in a New Jersey friendly.

In his first appearance in a Brazil squad since the World Cup debacle last year, the forward stated his case to start in their first 2018 World Cup qualifying game next month against Chile in Santiago.

He leapt on a loose ball in the box, eluding a defender and firing home for the only goal of the game at Red Bull Arena.

Despite a dearth of chances for Costa Rica -- playing under coach Oscar Ramirez for the first time -- Brazil were unable to build on the lead, with chances for Marcelo and Douglas Costa going begging after the break.

Neymar, with the squad for two North American friendlies even though he is suspended for the first two World Cup qualifiers because of his Copa America red card, came off the bench 10 minutes from time.

But Dunga's team were unable to find a second goal.

They had put Costa Rican goalkeeper Patrick Pemberton -- in for Real Madrid's Keylor Navas -- to work quickly as he denied a free-kick from Hulk and a low close-range blast from David Luiz in the seventh minute.

Brazil's aggressive start was rewarded in the 10th, when Hulk thundered into the area and got past Giancarlo Gonzalez.

Six minutes later Pemberton saved a scorcher from Fernandinho.

While Costa Rica did well to limit Brazil, Ramirez's men had few chances.

Their best opportunity came in the 55th minute when Bryan Ruiz's goal was ruled offside.

Both teams were playing their first match since losing in the quarter-finals of their continental championships this year.

Brazil were eliminated by Paraguay at the Copa America while Costa Rica lost to Mexico in the Gold Cup.

The Ticos take on South Africa in October before beginning North and Central American World Cup qualifying in November.

Brazil face the United States on Tuesday at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts, home of the NFL's New England Patriots.

The two friendlies will be Brazil's only warm-up games before World Cup qualifying in October against Chile and Venezuela.

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