Those expecting a classical Brazilian performance at the Millennium Stadium last night saw the very best, and some of the worst, of the five-time World Cup winners now desperate for Olympic gold.
Mano Menezes' side produced one half of brilliant, beautiful football to go 3-0 up against an Egypt team whom they rendered irrelevant. The contest should have been over but a feckless second half meant the game ended at 3-2. If Brazil had not won this it would have been absurd profligacy of the worst kind.
To call Brazil's formation 4-4-2 would feel like a gross simplification given the fluidity of their movement, but new Chelsea signing Oscar did at least start on the right-hand side of midfield, elusively pulling and probing. He made Brazil's first chance after 10 minutes, feeding Hulk, who tore through a tackle and crossed to Neymar, who shot just wide.
It only took another six minutes for Oscar to make the first goal. Rafael da Silva stormed past him down the right and gave him the ball. Oscar waited for Rafael to continue and dropped a perfect reverse pass, which Rafael took in his stride and fired into the far bottom corner.
The vision and execution of the pass was very good, but even better was to come 10 minutes later. A diagonal ball was flicked on by Leandro Damiao, leaving Oscar to chase. He outmuscled a defender, beat the goalkeeper to the ball and took it wide. Sensing Damiao's run, he spun and crossed the ball off-balance, allowing the Internacional striker to finish.
With Neymar meant to provide from the left what Oscar brought from the right, it was understandable that the Santos prodigy was keen to perform too. So, four minutes later, he made it 3-0. Neymar ran through the middle, dragging defenders towards him and passing to Hulk on the left. The first-time cross came in and Neymar – not a traditional centre-forward – headed it in at the near post.
The first-half performance was so good that Brazil came back out like a team who thought their work was done. They were sloppy and slow in the second-half, allowing Egypt two soft goals through failures to clear. First an Eslam Ramadan free-kick was headed by Ahmed Fathi, and attacked by Emad Meteab, finally falling to Mohamed Aboutrika to put in the back of the net.
This should have woken Brazil but it did not, and with 14 minutes left on the clock, substitute Mohamed Salah scored from the edge of the box after Juan and Marcelo negligently failed to clear.
Brazil Neto; Marcelo, Rafael, Thiago Silva, Juan; Sandro (Danilo, 78), Romulo, Oscar, Neymar; Leandro (Pato 77), Hulk (Ganso, 72)
Egypt El-Shenawi; Alaa El-Din, Ramadan, Hegazi, Fathi; El-Nenny (Magdi ,88), Aboutrika, Gomaa (Shebab El Din ,74), Hassan; Emad Moteab, Marwan Mohsen (Salah, 46).
Referee G Rocchi (Italy)