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The Malaysian Insider :: Sports

Two-goal Neymar shines as Brazil beat Scotland

Posted: 27 Mar 2011 06:20 PM PDT

"Mohican Kid" Neymar (centre) breaks through the Scotland defence as Barry Bannan challenges for the ball during their international friendly at the Emirates Stadium in London, March 27, 2011. — Reuters pic

LONDON, March 28 — Teenage striker Neymar scored twice on his third appearance for Brazil as the South Americans outclassed Scotland 2-0 in a friendly played in something of a carnival atmosphere at Arsenal's Emirates Stadium yesterday.

The 19-year-old curled in a cool goal after 42 minutes, and a penalty after 77, as Brazil overwhelmed their British opponents on a sunny afternoon in front of 53,082 fans in London.

Having lost their last two friendlies to Argentina and France, and with an eye on the Copa America in July, Brazil looked for easier opposition to avoid a hat-trick of defeats.

In Scotland, who they had beaten seven times and drawn with twice in their previous nine games, they had the ideal victims for their 19th friendly on neutral soil in the past five years.

The five-time world champions, without strikers Alexandre Pato and Nilmar through injury, and Ronaldinho through non-selection, handed a debut to Leandro Damiao.

He clipped the bar with an early header following a prodigious leap but it was his strike partner Neymar who caught the eye, and not just for his 10cm-high Mohican haircut and his glossy purple-and-lime-green boots.

From the start he was keen to display his collection of flicks, feints and clever turns but his tiny teenage frame found things hard going in the face of some determined and sturdy Scottish defending.

Something of an amalgam of Didier Drogba and Cristiano Ronaldo, his theatrical responses and sulky indignation quickly established him as the villain in the eyes of the Scotland fans.

However, his face lit up three minutes before halftime after breaking the deadlock.

Andre Santos advanced up the left and found Neymar in an unforgivable amount of space on the edge of the box. He took a touch to kill the ball then stroked it round a defender and beyond goalkeeper Allan McGregor, quickly following with an extended jig in the company of half a dozen teammates.

Scintillating runs

It was the least Brazil deserved after dominating possession in a one-sided half.

Lucio, out of favour since the team he captained in the 2010 World Cup were knocked out in the quarter-finals by Netherlands, could not have asked for a more comfortable return as the centre back and goalkeeper Julio Cesar barely broke sweat despite the unseasonable sunshine.

Within seconds of the restart, Neymar burst through the Scottish defence and grazed the bar with a fizzing 25-metre shot; McGregor had to make a scrambling double save; and Ramires blazed horribly over the bar from 10 metres.

Scotland finally forced a corner after an hour, greeted with delirium by their success-starved fans, but in keeping with the gulf in class, Charlie Adam's flag kick barely left the ground.

Coach Mano Menezes handed another debut to the highly rated 18-year-old Lucas, who teamed up with Neymar to such devastating effect to help Brazil win the South American under-20 championship last month.

His first touch sent Neymar into the box, and when his dummy led to him being tripped by Adam, Neymar got up to stroke home the penalty.

Lucas gave a glimpse of his talent with two scintillating runs in the dying minutes, the second of which handed fellow substitute Jonas a glorious chance for the third goal, which he blasted high over the bar. — Reuters

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Britain’s Laird wins Arnold Palmer Invitational

Posted: 27 Mar 2011 05:13 PM PDT

Martin Laird accepts the winner's trophy from Arnold Palmer at the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill Club and Lodge in Orlando, Florida, March 27, 2011. Laird's fiancee Megan Franks is thrilled, between them. — Reuters pic

ORLANDO, Florida, March 28 — Britain's Martin Laird won the Arnold Palmer Invitational today, overcoming a dreadful start to beat American Steve Marino by a stroke.

The Scotsman's second win on the PGA Tour came via a rough and tumble three-over-par round of 75 in the final round, and was helped by Marino's double bogey on the penultimate hole.

Laird, who finished with an eight-under-par total of 280, had a two-stroke overnight lead that evaporated when he made three bogeys on the front nine.

It got worse for Laird on the par-four 11th, when he went from fairway bunker to water for a double bogey.

But Laird regained his composure with a birdie on the 12th, and although he bogeyed the 14th, successive birdies followed.

Marino, seeking his first PGA Tour win, was in the frame before he hit a green-side bunker shot on the 17th over the back of a treacherously hard and fast green for a double bogey.

Laird only needed a par on the final hole to secure victory but he sent his drive into rough and while he found the green with his second shot, he was still 87 feet from the hole.

Memories of a missed opportunity at the Barclays in August, the last time Laird was in such a winning position, no doubt came flooding back.

Laird took a three-shot lead into the final day of the Barclays but he three-putted the final hole and then lost to American Matt Kuchar in a playoff.

This time, however, Laird stroked the ball to just under four feet and then finished off the job, releasing his tension with a Tiger Woods-style fist pump.

It was a good day for Britain at the Bay Hill course, with Englishman Justin Rose shooting a 68 to tie for third. Australian Marc Leishman (71) and American David Toms (72) finished two shots back of Laird. — Reuters

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