Brazil subdues 10-man Ghana in friendly
Leandro Damiao's first half strike gave Brazil a 1-0 win over 10-man Ghana in a no-holds barred friendly here on Monday.
Damiao got the only goal with a clinical finish as the five-time world champions took advantage of extra space in the Ghana defence following Daniel Opare's dismissal.
Opare was sent off by English referee Mike Dean after fouling Brazil captain Lucio and the red card was the inevitable result of Ghana's aggressive approach, which eventually produced six bookings.
Mano Menezes' side were always in control, but the Brazil coach will be disappointed his side didn't turn their possession into further goals.
This friendly at Fulham's Craven Cottage was billed as Ronaldinho's chance for redemption as the former Barcelona star pulled on the famous yellow Brazil shirt for only the second time since being left out of the squad for last year's World Cup.
It seemed Ronaldinho's international exile would be permanent, but the forward -- who won the World Cup with Brazil in 2002 -- has been revitalised by a move to Flamengo.
Ronaldinho's return to form coincided with Menezes's desire for a creative spark to ignite his team, who crashed out of the recent Copa America at the quarter-final stage and then gave a tepid display in a friendly defeat against Germany.
There was an early glimpse of Ronaldinho's ability to cause havoc from set-pieces as his free-kick picked out Lucio at the far post and the defender forced Ghana goalkeeper Adam Kwarasey into action for the first time.
Ronaldinho's influence waned as the match progressed, but he gave a good enough performance to suggest he will feature in Menezes' plans for the moment.
Menezes was forced to make an early change when midfielder Ganso, limping off to be replaced by Elias, became a casualty of Ghana's fierce tackling.
The opening stages were notable for some brutal challenges, with Opare shown the yellow card for a crude hack on Neymar and team-mate Derek Boateng following him into the book for another cynical foul.
Damiao thought he had given Brazil the lead midway through the first half when he ran onto Neymar's pass and lifted his shot over Kwarasey, but the effort was ruled out for offside.
Ghana's rudimentary approach to tackling backfired in the 34th minute when Opare was sent off after catching Lucio on the ankle as he miscontrolled the ball and lunged to regain possession.
Dean decided the foul was worthy of a second booking and the distraught Opare had to be led off the pitch by Ghana skipper John Pantsil.
Even then Ghana weren't prepared to back off and Jonathan Mensah was booked for another unnecessary foul before Brazil took the lead on the stroke of half-time.
Fernandinho, taking possession just inside the Ghana half, was the provider with a defence-splitting pass that picked out Damiao and the forward kept his composure to steer a fine low finish past Kwarasey.
Brazil were able to play in first gear after the break thanks to their numerical advantage, with a Ronaldinho free-kick and a Alexandre Pato header their only chances.
Ghana's attempts to kick Brazil out of their stride continued and Lee Addy was booked for crunching into Neymar, while Samuel Inkoom was also shown the yellow card by the over-worked Dean.
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