QUITO, Ecuador: Gabriel Jesus scored twice in his debut and Neymar notched the other, giving Brazil a 3-0 victory over Ecuador on Thursday and making it a perfect start for new coach Tite in his first match in charge.
With the match scoreless and evenly played, Neymar broke through with a penalty in the 72nd minute. Gabriel Jesus then scored in the 87th, and got another in stoppage time.
Neymar’s penalty came after Gabriel Jesus, better known as “Gabigol”, was tripped in the area by Ecuador keeper Alexander Dominguez. Gabigol then put on his own show, chipping in a back-heel shot from close range and then hammering in an 18-meter (yard) drive.
“It couldn’t have started better,” the 19-year-old said. “Tite showed confidence in me. I’m really happy. Not just scoring, but playing with the team.”
It’s been a good few weeks for Gabigol, scoring two goals in his first match with the senior team to go with an Olympic gold medal from Brazil’s win over Germany on penalties in the final at the Maracana.
It was a critical victory for the Brazilians. They survived in the thin air of Quito (2,850 meters/9,350 feet), and got a victory for new coach Adenor Leonardo Bacchi — known universally as Tite (pronounced CHI-che).
Neymar debuted a new haircut with the national team — shaved close on the side and bleached on top.
He took over when Dunga was fired in June after Brazil failed to reach the knockout stage of the Copa America.
Ecuador played with 10 men after Juan Carlos Paredes was sent off the 75th for second yellow card.
Brazil improved to 12 points in seven games, its first victory after draws in the last two matches under Dunga.
Ecuador stayed on 13 points.
ARGENTINA 1, URUGUAY 0
Lionel Messi scored in the 43rd minute on a bouncing shot, spinning and shooting off his left foot from 18 meters (yards) before the ball took a deflection off a Uruguay defender’s leg. Two minutes later Argentina went down to 10 men when Paulo Dybala received his second yellow card. Playing in the Andean city of Mendoza, Argentina improved to 14 points to stay top of South American qualifying. Uruguay stayed on 13.
BOLIVIA 2, PERU 0
Pablo Escobar scored in the 37th minute and Ronald Raldes added a header in the 87th to secure Bolivia’s victory. Bolivia is always difficult to beat at home playing at 3,600 meters (11,800 feet) in La Paz. Bolivia has six points and Peru is near the bottom with four.
COLOMBIA 2, VENEZUELA 0
James Rodriguez scored in first-half stoppage time, and Macnelly Torres scored in the 80th to keep Colombia on track for a spot in Russia. Colombia dominated shots and possession and moved up to 13 points from seven matches. Venezuela has only one point. It’s the only team in the South American confederation that has yet to reach the World Cup final.
PARAGUAY 2, CHILE 1
Paraguay grabbed a quick lead at home. Oscar Romero scored in the 5th minute and Paul da Silva added a header three minutes later. Arturo Vidal pulled a goal back with a header in the 35th. Paraguay climbed up to 12 points, and Chile stayed on 10 after seven rounds of matches.