Paulinho Hat-Trick Secures Brazil Victory Over Uruguay

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| March 24 , 2017 , 12:12 IST
paulinho-cropped_17n830itjxrnz18wwsf708uwvq Montevideo, March 24: Guangzhou Evergrande midfielder Paulinho bagged a hat-trick as Brazil edged closer to qualifying for next year's football World Cup with a 4-1 victory over Uruguay here. Barcelona forward Neymar also netted for the five-time World Cup winners while Edinson Cavani was on the scoresheet for the hosts on Thursday, reports Xinhua news agency. It was Brazil's seventh straight win under coach Tite, who remains unbeaten since taking over from Dunga after the team's group-stage elimination from last year's Copa America. Never before has Brazil won so many competitive matches in succession. The last time they won six in a row was in 1969, en route to their World Cup triumph in Mexico the following year. The result was Uruguay's first loss at home since 2010. Before Thursday, the Celeste had conceded just one goal as hosts in the current qualifying campaign. Brazil now leads the CONMEBOL South American zone standings with 30 points from 13 matches, seven points ahead of second-placed Uruguay. The two-time World Cup winners got off to a perfect start when Cavani converted a ninth-minute penalty after he was brought down by goalkeeper Alisson. But it didn't take long for Brazil to assert their authority. Neymar found Paulinho in space minutes later and the former Tottenham Hotspur player needed only one touch before rifling an unstoppable 25-yard shot into the top-right corner. Leading up to the match, Brazil's press hailed Tite for bringing back the Selecao's trademark jogo bonito -- or beautiful play -- and it was no different here as Neymar, Paulinho, Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino terrorised Uruguay's defence. Despite their dominance, it took until just after halftime for Brazil to take the lead. The breakthrough came when Firmino's clever turn and left foot shot was parried clear by goalkeeper before Paulinho fired in the rebound. The goal lifted the visitors' confidence another notch as Paulinho, Renato Augusto and Casemiro took charge in midfield and Neymar posed an increasing threat on the left. Neymar scored his fifth goal of the qualifying campaign when he ran onto a long Miranda clearance and then deftly chipped the ball over goalkeeper Martin Silva. Paulinho made it 4-0 in second-half stoppage time by deflecting in a Dani Alves cross with his chest.