Brazil vs Argentina match report: Neymar inspires crushing win to dent rival's hopes of reaching 2018 World Cup

Brazil 3 Argentina 0: Selecao lay to rest their 2014 World Cup demons in Belo Horizonte after dominating South American rivals to leave them languishing in sixth place

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The Independent Football

Brazil laid to rest the ghosts of their 2014 World Cup semi-final nightmare in Belo Horizonte with a 3-0 win over their great rivals Argentina.

Tite's side returned to the Mineirao for the first time since their harrowing 7-1 loss to Germany two years ago and created some happier memories with a win that puts them well on course for Russia.

Picturebook first-half goals from Phillipe Coutinho and Neymar and a second-half effort from Paulinho earned a fifth successive World Cup qualifcation victory, which leaves them top of the group and near certainties for the 2018 tournament.

Brazil will also take pleasure in further damaging Argentina's chances of reaching Russia as a difficult campaign continued with a third defeat, which currently leaves them outside the top-four automatic qualifying positions.

Such a gruelling night for the visitors did not appear on the cards straight away as they started brightly and only a superb flying save from Alisson from Lucas Biglia's shot denied them a lead.

But Brazil soon got to grips with the game and opened the scoring in the 25th minute with a fine individual strike from Coutinho.

Liverpool's playmaker picked up the ball in the left, cut inside and drilled an unstoppable effort from 20 yards into the top corner.

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Neymar got the better of his Barcelona teammate Lionel Messi (Getty)

Neymar came close to doubling the advantage when he broke away on a counter attack, but his shot from an acute angle hit the post.

The Barcelona star, who was out-performing his domestic team-mate Lionel Messi, did get on the scoresheet in first-half stoppage time with another fine goal - his 50th in the famous yellow and blue.

It was made by a superb incisive pass from Gabriel Jesus, who set Neymar clear and the finish was cool and into the bottom corner.

Argentina brought on Sergio Aguero at half-time but his introduction made little difference to proceedings.

Paulinho thought he had made it three just before the hour when he rounded the goalkeeper, but a heroic piece of defending by Pablo Zabaleta saved a certain goal.

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Messi was left disconsolate after missing a chance for Argentina (Getty)

But Paulinho had to wait just four minutes to atone for the miss when he swept home from 12 yards after some poor Argentina defending.

Edguardo Bauza's side were a total no-show in the second half, with Messi unable to have any impact, and Bauza - just four games into the job - could be under threat.

Brazil continued to enjoy total dominance in the final 20 minutes but failed to inflict further damage.

PA

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