Brazil 2 Wales 0: Marcelo and Love hand Wales a lesson in the art of finishing

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The Independent Online

If Ryan Giggs was a Brazilian. Even the South Americans' coach, Dunga, was asked to muse on that proposition after the Welsh captain produced the compelling performance during last night's defeat. "Everyone would like to have a player like him," the World Cup-winning midfielder smiled. "But I have nowhere to put him."

Indeed. Wales stationed Giggs in the centre of midfield and for the first half, before being withdrawn by prior arrangement, he caught the eye against Ronaldinho, Kaka, Arsenal's Julio Baptista and so on.

Dunga made wholesale changes from the convincing slaying of Argentina, also in London, just two days previously and managed to enrich his team. Maybe Giggs would struggle to feature but his importance to Wales cannot be overestimated.

"It is in Manchester United's interests but it is in our interests as well," said the Wales coach, John Toshack, afterwards when asked why Giggs had just played 45 minutes. He is 32 now and the cotton-wool treatment is more necessary than ever.

Toshack's fear that Wales could take a "hiding", with the friendly coming so soon after the bitterly disappointing defeat away to the Czech Republic in their first European Championship qualifier, was never in danger of being realised.

Instead, the biggest disappointment was the attendance of just 22,008. A mixture of transport problems and, apparently, the failure to open enough turnstiles compounded matters.

This was a Brazilian home game through a combination of the need to make money - they rented the venue - and an agreement to play such matches in Europe where 17 of the squad are based.

One who is not is Marcelo. The 18-year-old has played just 26 league games for his club, Fluminense, and was a surprise inclusion in Dunga's squad. "When we called him up a few people thought it was strange," he said. The reward came on the hour as the full-back rattled in a bouncing 25-yard drive beyond Welsh goalkeeper Paul Jones to score on his debut. Another star could well be in the making.

Brazil's second goal came from the other flank and from another precocious new full-back talent, albeit one with a greater reputation. Real Madrid's Cicinho was allowed time to pick his cross and found the head of striker Vagner Love, who had stolen in front of James Collins.

By then Wales, with a promising performance by 18-year-old Gareth Bale, had made enough changes to disrupt their otherwise compact shape. Toshack expressed his concerns that his strikers were profligate, although Brazil were guilty of far more, and far more glaring, misses.

Brazil (4-3-2-1): Gomes (PSV Eindhoven); Maicon (Internazionale), Luisao (Benfica), Alex (PSV Eindhoven), Marcelo (Fluminense); Baptista (Arsenal), Edmilson (Barcelona), Dudu Cearense (CSKA Moscow); Kaka (Milan), Ronaldinho (Barcelona); Vagner Love (CSKA Moscow). Substitutes used: Gilberto Silva (Arsenal) for Edmilson, h-t; Cicinho (Real Madrid) for Maicon, 59; Robinho (Real Madrid) for Ronaldinho, 67; Elano (Shakhtar Donetsk) for Kaka, 73; Gilberto (Hertha Berlin) for Marcelo, 75; Rafael Sobis (Seville) for Baptista, 78.

Wales (5-3-2): Jones (QPR); Duffy (Portsmouth), Collins, Gabbidon (both West Ham), Nyatanga (Derby County), Bale (Southampton); Davies (Everton), Giggs (Manchester United), Robinson (Norwich City); Earnshaw (Norwich City), Bellamy (Liverpool). Substitutes used: Ledley (Cardiff City) for Giggs, h-t; Ricketts (Hull City) for Bale, h-t; Fletcher (Crystal Palace) for Robinson, 53; Edwards (Wolves) for Duffy, 64; Vaughan (Crewe Alexandra) for Davies, 67; Cotterill (Wigan Athletic) for Earnshaw, 77.

Referee: M Riley (England).

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