Brazil picked up their second win in four days this evening, overcoming a disappointing Egypt side in Doha. Although hardly a stellar performance from the seleção, a number of players staked their claim for a regular spot in Mano Menezes' lineup.
Brazil 2-0 Egypt
Having watched his side struggle in Libreville, Menezes shuffled his pack slightly, handing starts to Fernandinho and Lucas Leiva deep in midfield. Former Santos starlet Alex Sandro earnt a first senior start at leftback, whilst David Luiz and Daniel Alves were also drafted into the backline. Interestingly, the side's shape also changed: the 4-2-2-2 against Gabon was replaced by a lopsided 4-2-3-1 in Doha. Hulk started high on the right (a position that he is well accustomed to, of course), with Hernanes slightly deeper on the left. Bruno César occupied the role of central playmaker.
Brazil started well, with two players in particular impressing. David Luiz showed just why he he can be such an asset for Menezes' side: his crisp passing and incisive bursts provided impetus from the back, whilst also taking pressure off Lucas Leiva. Alex Sandro, meanwhile, provided a real threat from fullback, linking well with Hernanes and drawing a sprawling save from Ahmed Al Shenawy midway through the half.
Jonas, a striker of whose qualities I haven't always been convinced, also played well, linking up with the midfield and dropping deep when necessary. The Valencia forward was rewarded for his efforts towards the end of the opening period, tapping home after good build-up play from Hulk and Bruno César (who had a quiet evening on the whole). Egypt briefly threatened to rally, but Diego Alves' save from Shikabala's free-kick remained his only meaningful work of the half.
The early stages of the second period saw Brazil continue to dominate proceedings. A magnificent through-ball from Fernandinho (reminiscent of his assist against Ghana in September) presented Jonas with the chance to double the seleção's lead, but some brave defending from Ahmed Hegazi bailed Egypt out at the last. Jonas, however, would not be denied. When Fernandinho's header was parried by Al Shenawy just minutes later, Brazil's No.9 tapped home his second international goal, effectively ending the game as a contest.
The game became rather boring from that point. Egypt grew into the match, but failed to test Diego Alves, whilst Hernanes dragged Brazil's best chance wide at the other end. Only a late cameo appearance from former Cruzeiro youngster Dudu livened up the closing stages: his electric running provided Brazil with a cutting edge that they had been missing for long stretches of the match.
This, then, was another fairly routine win for the seleção. The performance, though, will likely have pleased Menezes: although Egypt failed to provide the challenge that he might have hoped for, Brazil looked far more competent than they did against Gabon four days earlier. With the likes of Neymar, Leandro Damião, Paulo Henrique Ganso and Kaká all likely to come back into contention in the coming months, and his side ending the year on a five-game unbeaten streak, Mano will head into 2012 with cautious optimism.
(Photo credit: Reuters.)