Robinho belatedly brightened up a chilly night at sold-out Croke Park with a 65th-minute winner to help Brazil sink the managerless Republic of Ireland. The Real Madrid striker finished off a sweeping counter-attacking move by firing a low shot through Lee Carsley's legs and beyond the desperate reach of Shay Given.
Fabiano and Julio Baptista also came close, but the Republic were far from disgraced and could even have gone ahead when Kevin Doyle directed a header onto the roof of the net. Rugged defending kept Brazil at bay until the final 25 minutes when Leonardo Moura set up the onrushing Fabiano only to see him shoot into the side-netting, before the visitors finally took the lead in typically effortless fashion.
The Republic had enjoyed their best spell of the match just before the hour mark, with Stephen Kelly's right-wing cross setting up a chance for substitute Darren Potter who mis-kicked in a central position.
The visitors were restricted to just two shots on target from Josue and Diego in a tame first half. The Republic made few forays although Aiden McGeady was relishing the space afforded him on the left and twice saw dangerous balls into the box come to nothing. Roared on by a colourful travelling support, Brazil served early notice of their class when Robinho backheeled cleverly to Baptista, whose through-ball split the Irish defence but found Fabiano just offside. McGeady matched that with a darting run down the left which was brought to an end by a foul from Leonardo Moura, but a dangerous-looking Republic free-kick was wide.
Carsley gave away an even more risky free-kick with a seventh-minute foul on Robinho on the edge of the Republic box, but Diego's low set-piece was saved well to his left by Given. The Brazilians continued to get forward, although Robinho was way off with a spectacular volley in the 18th minute.
The Republic could be reasonably happy with their start, with their tenacity in central defence thwarting the visitors. John O'Shea did well to deflect another Moura cross from the right out for a corner while Fabiano broke through but was ruled narrowly offside again.
The game had yet to catch alight although there was no shortage of sweat amongst the Republic back-line as they continued to suffocate most of the Brazilian attacks. McGeady produced a moment of magic in the 37th minute when he skipped around two defenders and fired a deep cross which Luisao did well to hack out of the six-yard box.
Republic of Ireland: Given, Kelly, Dunne, O'Shea, Kilbane, McGeady, Miller, Carsley, Duff, Keane, Kevin Doyle.
Brazil: Julio Cesar, Leonardo Moura, Alex, Julio Baptista, Luisao, Josue, Silva, Richarlyson, Luis Fabiano, Diego, Robinho.
Referee: R Rogalla (Switzerland).