Brazil take giant leap towards World Cup qualifications

MONTEVIDEO: Brazil put one foot in next year's World Cup finals on Tuesday with a comprehensive 3-0 victory over Paraguay.

Barcelona superstar Neymar scored a dazzling solo goal after Liverpool forward Philippe Coutinho had opened the scoring for Brazil as the five-time world champions notched an eighth straight qualifying victory.

The win at Sao Paulo's Arena Corinthians means Brazil are all but guaranteed to extend their record of never failing to qualify for the World Cup by securing their place in Russia.

Tuesday's victory sees them lead the 10-team standings by nine points with four games remaining.

Uruguay could cut the lead to seven points with a win against Peru later Tuesday, but with the top four teams in South America qualifying for Russia, only a freak set of results can now deny Brazil a place in the finals.

After demolishing the Uruguayans 4-1 last Thursday in Montevideo, Brazil were made to wait for the breakthrough against Paraguay.

The goal they craved finally came on 34 minutes, with Coutinho playing a one-two with Paulinho before burying a low finish into the bottom corner.

Neymar had a chance to make it 2-0 in the 53rd minute from the penalty spot only to see his kick saved by Anthony Silva.

On 64 minutes Neymar doubled Brazil's tally, collecting the ball deep inside his own half and setting off on a surging run down the left flank.

Neymar's dribble ended with him curling in a shot which took a slight deflection on its way into the Paraguayan goal.

Real Madrid defender Marcelo added a late third to seal Brazil's win. — AFP