Orlando City captain Kaka returns as Brazil defeats Costa Rica
The Brazilian national team enjoyed a sunny afternoon in Harrison, New Jersey where they defeated Costa Rica 1-0 in a friendly game that had plenty of positive flow, but little by way of actual goals.
Brazilian manager Dunga opted to keep a number of star players on the bench, with Neymar, Roberto Firmino, and Philippe Coutinho watching from the sidelines. Team captain Neymar sat for precautionary measures, as the Barcelona man dealt with another injury scare.
But, Neymar entered the match in the 80th minute, alleviating fears of a long-term injury.
Brazil wouldn't need Neymar to score a goal to win the match, though. Instead, Zenit St. Petersburg winger Hulk, returning to the national team for the first time since his torrid 2014 FIFA World Cup, found the back of the net 10 minutes into the match.
Playing as a lone striker up top, Hulk smashed a left-footed shot from the centre of the box into the bottom right corner after muscling away a Costa Rican defender to open up space. His goal gave Brazil the 1-0 lead.
Costa Rican forward Bryan Ruiz sniffed for an equalizer and may have had a claim after being sandwiched and pushed down by David Luiz in the box after the goal. There was a penalty shout but nothing was given.
Ruiz was denied once more in the 55th minute after scoring off a beautifully-timed volley, which was adjudged offside, though by questionable margins. Replays show Ruiz may have been onside, but it wouldn't matter as Ruiz came off with 10 minutes to go, goalless and feeling hard done.
It was a good 1-0 win for Brazil, one that marked the return of Kaka. The Orlando City captain entered the match in the 67th minute and featured for about half an hour, his first national team appearance in two years.
Kaka, Neymar, and the rest of the Brazilian side next face off against the United States on Sept. 8.