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September 23, 2017

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Brazil savor increased confidence after China win

SAO PAULO -- For Brazil, there's no better way to appease disgruntled fans than with a flurry of goals. That's why a thrashing of China was just what the team needed to boost its confidence and bring supporters back to its side.

Brazil beat China 8-0 in a friendly at home on Monday, and players left the field applauded by fans just three days after hearing loud jeers following an unimpressive 1-0 win over South Africa, a result that increased pressure on coach Mano Menezes.

The coach said the boos from fans in Sao Paulo upset players and gave them extra motivation to play harder and get the big win against China in Recife.

"We came into this match with a positive anger," Menezes said. "And you need some of that to become a winning team. We had to transform that into positive energy and we did. We answered by playing good football."

He added: "We received some fair criticism in the last few days and we knew we could do better. And that's what we did."

Menezes and the players acknowledged that China didn't pose much of a threat and created no significant difficulties for Brazil, but they said the convincing victory helped show fans that they can trust the national team.

"We knew that China wasn't too strong, but what mattered the most was the way how we played, our attitude," said Neymar, one of the players jeered the most in the match against South Africa. "This is how we should always play, taking control of the match from the start."

Neymar scored three times on Monday, and Brazil also got goals from Ramires, Lucas, Oscar and Hulk. Chinese defender Liu Jianye scored an own goal.

Daniel Alves, one of the players who criticized the fans' behavior in Sao Paulo, said that if Brazil keeps playing well it will continue to enjoy the support from the stands.

"The example needs to come from us," the Barcelona right back said. "We are the ones playing for the national team right now, we need to answer the critics positively by playing well like we did against China. We are united in our quest. We know it won't be easy, but if everybody is together, it will be a lot easier."

Brazil is trying to put a team together ahead of next year's Confederations Cup and World Cup at home.

The victory against China helped reduce the criticism against Menezes ahead of the upcoming matches against South American rival Argentina. Menezes heard from the fans against South Africa every time he left the bench to instruct his players.

The pressure for his resignation had significantly increased after he failed to lead Brazil to the gold medal at the London Games despite having most of his top players available.

Brazil will play the Superclassic of the Americas, a home-and-away series against the Argentines, on Sept. 19 and Oct. 3, and then will face Japan in a friendly in Poland on Oct 16.

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