Jesus sparkles as Brazil down Ecuador

Quito (AFP) – Two goals from teenage prodigy Gabriel Jesus fired Brazil to their first ever qualifying victory in Ecuador on Thursday to reignite the South American giants’ 2018 World Cup qualification campaign.

Jesus — who signed for English giants Manchester City from Palmeiras in August — underscored his status as one of the brightest talents in Brazilian football with two late goals as new coach Tite’s reign got off to a dream start with a 3-0 victory.

The 19-year-old forward also played a key role in Brazil’s opening goal, winning the penalty which Barcelona superstar Neymar duly converted in the 72nd minute.

For once though, Neymar, the hero of Brazil’s first ever Olympic football gold medal last month, was outshone by his fellow attacker, making his first senior appearance. 

Jesus had won the penalty for the first goal after bursting into the area and drawing a foul from Ecuador goalkeeper Alexander Dominguez.

Paraguayan referee Enrique Caceres wasted no time in pointing to the spot before Neymar stepped up to score.

Jesus — another member of Brazil’s triumphant Olympic campaign — then doubled Brazil’s lead three minutes from time with a sublime flicked finish after Marcelo’s low cross from the left flank.

It got better in stoppage time when Jesus surged forward against a ragged Ecuador defense to curl home a wonderful shot into the top corner for 3-0.

The victory was Brazil’s first win on the road in what has been a disappointing qualifying campaign so far, with the five-time world champions lying outside the automatic qualifying places in sixth place prior to Thursday’s game.

It was also the first time Brazil has ever beaten Ecuador in the thin air of Quito, which is situated a dizzying 2,850 meters (9,350 feet) above sea level.

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