|Robinho shows his return to form ahead of Brazil’s World Cup selection [GALLO/GETTY]|
Brazilian hopeful Robinho made a productive return to England with a goal and an assist to give Brazil a 2-0 victory over Ireland in a friendly at Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium.
An own-goal by Keith Andrews and a quality second strike by Robinho gave the five-time champions victory exactly 100 days before the World Cup opener.
Brazil produced an impressive second-half display after having failed to impress before half-time.
The first goal in the final minute of the first half was a fluke, Andrews turning a cross from Robinho into his own net.
But there was nothing lucky about the second, Robinho swapping passes with Kaka and Grafite before stroking the ball home in the 76th minute.
“Robinho is someone who has always had big emotion for the national team and he was decisive today,” Brazil coach Dunga said on Tuesday night.
“Sometimes people … talk bad about him. Everybody can go through a good or a bad moment but … certain players are very important to us and the whole team has to be behind those players.”
Substitute Daniel Alves should have doubled the lead after the break when he rounded Ireland keeper Shay Given and shot wide of the empty net.
Robinho, who ended an unhappy spell with English side Manchester City by returning home to join former club Santos on loan in January, added the second goal with a neat side-footed finish following a quick passing move involving Kaka and Grafite.
Dunga suggested that Pato and Ronaldinho, who he has repeatedly overlooked, would struggle to earn places when he announces his World Cup squad in May.
“Everybody has had his chance to show what they can do,” Dunga said.
“Now things have to be decided.”
Ireland matched Brazil in the first half but the South Americans were completely on top in the second period, with Robinho and Kaka combining particularly well.
The only blot on the evening for Robinho came in the second half when he spooned a chance over the bar from eight metres after another flowing move down the right.
Brazil begin their World Cup challenge when they face Group G rivals North Korea in Johannesburg on June 15. They then face Ivory Coast five days later and Portugal on June 25.
Ireland were playing their first game since their World Cup qualification dreams ended in despair in November when France claimed a controversial playoff victory.
“For 45 minutes we saw a very beautiful game,” said Ireland coach Giovanni Trapattoni.
“I think we played at the same level as Brazil.
“I thought in this moment we could also hope … for a good result (but) the first goal was offside by one metre,” added the Italian.
Arsenal’s 60,000-capacity Emirates Stadium appeared two-thirds full, with an even split between fans of both teams. It was Brazil’s fifth game at the ground, having beaten Argentina 3-0, Sweden 1-0 and Italy 2-0 but lost 2-0 to Portugal.