It's nearly Olympics time, and that means we get to see 'team GB' -- the combined UK under-23 side -- in action. Happily, we also got Brazil as well, which means the likes of Neymar, Hulk and Thiago Silva took the pitch at the Riverside. That sounded like a recipe for an entertaining game, and they certainly delivered.
Brazil set the tone with great chances for both Neymar and Internacional's Leandro Damiao (the former missed when clean through; the latter was incorrectly flagged for offside on a header from Marcelo's cross), and it was the visitors who struck first. Oscar won a free kick after turning Tom Cleverley in midfield, and as the British defence set up for the seemingly inevitable Hulk shot, Neymar took a quick free kick, picking out Sandro for an easy header at Jason Steele's back post.
The hosts nearly replied within five minutes after Daniel Sturridge skinned Marcelo on the right wing and Micah Richard's excellent flick left Rafael Barbosa stranded. Brazil's defence recovered before a blue shirt could pounce, but it was a signal that Britain weren't going to go down without a fight.
Ryan Bertrand took that metaphor a little too seriously when he cuffed Neymar in the back of the head, the Santos forward going down as though he'd been electrocuted, which probably cost him what would have been an entirely legitimate spot kick. It didn't cost Brazil too much -- Hulk burst into the other side of the penalty area a few minutes later and was brought down by Micah Richards. Neymar, who miraculously recovered from his brutal mauling at the hands of Bertrand, slotted expertly into the bottom corner despite Steele guessing in the right direction.
2-0 against what was effectively a Brazil first team? Stuart Pearce's side were never coming back from that, and the rest of the match was essentially damage control. Halftime came without much further incident on either end of the pitch save for an Oscar through ball to Hulk which split the GB defence but was called back (dubiously, perhaps) for offside, and the requisite substitutions were made by the home team at the break.
The second half saw a few very good saves made by new goalkeeper Jack Butland and then an awkward landing for Paris Saint-Germain new boy Thiago Silva. And that's about it. Brazil shuffled off their stars, replacing them with... other stars, but they never looked particularly uncomfortable against the home side's attack.
Nor did they look particularly interested in scoring, although Butland had something to do with that. At any rate, the match finished 2-0, and it looks like Stuart Pearce has a lot of work to do. Brazil, on the other hand, managed to crush their opponents without getting out of first gear. Are they going to be able to top Spain this year?