Middlesbrough: Brazil underlined their position as favourites for the Olympic gold when they gave a masterful performance to complete a 2-0 win over hosts Great Britain, who fielded a united team for the first time in 41 years.
Brazil won the friendly with a header from Sandro and a penalty from Neymar just five days before the London Games football competition, which features an under-23 line-up with three over-aged players, kicks off.
Brazil, seeking to win the Olympic title for the first time, sent a powerful message of intent to the other 15 teams in the competition with a sublime display in their final warm-up before the Games.
“I’m not worried about sending a message to the other teams. My main concern was to get my European-based players, returning from holiday, back in the rhythm of the team,” Brazil coach Mano Menezes said.
“That took maybe 20 minutes at the start, but then we played very well for the rest of the half and the match.”
On an unusually sunny evening at the Riverside, there was excitement that the Olympics was drawing closer with the theme from “Chariots of Fire” reverberating around stadium before kick off and the unusual site of the Union Jack fluttering in the breeze.
Britain struck gold in three out of four Games from 1900 but in recent years, fielding a Team GB has been blocked by the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland football associations amid fears that they might lose their independent status within Fifa.
No British team took part in Olympic football since a qualifying defeat to Bulgaria in May 1971 cost them a place in the 1972 Munich Games but when London was awarded the Games, the hosts were obliged to compete.
Friday’s match was Britain’s only warm-up before the start of their Olympic campaign against Senegal at Old Trafford next Thursday.