Paulinho hat-trick keeps Brazil on road to Russia
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[March 24, 2017]
MONTEVIDEO (Reuters) - Brazil
recovered from conceding an early goal to beat Uruguay 4-1 in
Montevideo on Thursday, with Paulinho grabbing a hat-trick in a win
that all but cemented their place at next year's World Cup finals.
The victory gave Tite his eighth win in eight games as coach and
lifted leaders Brazil to 30 points in the South American qualifying
group, a tally that has been more than enough to guarantee
qualification in previous campaigns.
"We work hard every day and so this isn't an accident," Paulinho
said of the three points and three goals, his first professional
"We played a great game and got a great win. We knew how difficult
it would be here. We went behind, but we kept our concentration and
we had the coolness to go after a result.
"Now we need to keep it up and I am sure this team has a lot more to
The five-times World Cup winners led second-placed Uruguay by four
points before the game but it was the weakened home side that took
the lead after eight minutes thanks to a penalty from Edinson
Marcelo tried to chest down the ball to his keeper but Cavani nipped
in to intercept and was pulled down by Alisson. The Paris St.
Germain striker got up to rifle the ball home low to Alisson's
It was the first time that Brazil had gone behind since Tite took
over as coach last summer and it only took them 10 minutes to show
they would not be bowed.
Neymar laid the ball off to Paulinho in midfield and the former
Tottenham midfielder hammered home a spectacular right-foot shot
from 30 yards out.
When Brazil took the lead six minutes into the second half it was
again Paulinho who did the damage.
Goalkeeper Martin Silva could only parry Roberto Firmino's shot from
the edge of the box and Paulinho was on hand to knock the rebound
home from six yards.
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Brazil's Paulinho celebrates his third goal. REUTERS/Andres Stapff
Neymar had a quiet game but he got Brazil's third
with 16 minutes to go when he seized on a long ball to outrun
Sebastian Coates and deftly lob the stranded Silva.
Paulinho got his third and Brazil's fourth in injury time when he
cheekily chested home a cross from Dani Alves.
In the evening's earlier match, Colombia beat Bolivia 1-0 in
James Rodriguez got the winner from the penalty spot after 83
minutes to lift Colombia in to third place in the qualifying group
with 21 points.
Paraguay also took three points to move into seventh place in the
10-team group with a narrow 2-1 win over Ecuador.
The top four teams qualify automatically for Russia 2018 and the
fifth-placed side go into a play off with a team from Oceania.
(Writing by Andrew Downie, editing by Nick Mulvenney)
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