Neymar's wonder goal on return from injury helps Brazil sink Croatia

Three favorites to win the 2018 World Cup

Neymar's wonder goal on return from injury helps Brazil sink Croatia

The PSG megastar, who cost a world record £198m when he signed from Barcelona last summer, suffered a broken metatarsal and sprained ankle in a Ligue 1 match against Marseille in late February - resulting in needing an operation on his foot.

Those fears largely disappeared Sunday when Neymar returned to action with smart dribbling, fluent passing and an impressive individual goal, which he celebrated with his surgeon.

He needed just 23 minutes to prove how important he is, not only to Brazil's hope of a sixth world title but also for the millions of fans who will watch the World Cup hoping the planet's most expensive player can take a leading role.

The Paris Saint-Germain forward injected pace and drive to the Brazilian frontline when he came off the bench at half time, marking his display with a stunning opening goal, jinking pass two defenders before lashing a finish high into the net.

Brazil coach Tite had started with Coutinho on the left and Manchester City striker Gabriel Jesus at centre-forward with Willian on the right flank. I expected much less of him because it is a gradual process.

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Liverpool's Roberto Firmino scored Brazil's second goal in the 90th.

"Neymar is only human, but he came back above my expectations too", Tite said.

"He will have to go through stages - he is going to have his ups and downs but by the third, fourth or fifth game he will be back to his level".

Brazil, who became the first team to qualify for the World Cup in March, face Austria next Sunday before starting their Group E campaign against Switzerland on 17 June.

Brazil won the game 2-0.

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