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Brazil extended their unbeaten run in FIFA World Cup qualifying to a mightily impressive 33 games with a comfortable 4-0 win over struggling Chile at a raucous Maracanã.

The ‘Seleção’ are the only nation to have qualified for every World Cup since the inaugural edition back in 1930. However, the five-time world champions started the game as if they, and not Chile, were still yet to secure their spot for the finals in Qatar. Antony and Vinícius Júnior were both a serious threat in the opening exchanges as Brazil looked to stretch their opponents’ backline, but it was the returning Neymar, making his first international appearance since November, who opened the scoring. Deep into the first half, the Paris Saint-Germain forward was fouled in the box before picking himself up to calmly put away the spot-kick, moving onto 71 goals for his country, just six shy of Pelé’s national record.

Always porous at the back, Chile went into this clash with the unenviable record of just one clean sheet from their previous five matches, and two minutes later they were two goals behind. Antony latched onto Claudio Bravo’s awful clearance before slotting in Vinícius Júnior, who expertly dispatched a fine finish into the bottom corner. Pre-match, La Roja’s qualification hopes hung by a thread, but they thought they had found a way back into the game almost immediately after the restart, through a close-range Arturo Vidal effort. VAR had other ideas though, and ruled the midfielder offside, curtailing Chile’s fledgling momentum with a grim finality.

Brazil have never lost a World Cup qualifier at home, and Tite’s side had a third goal in the 72nd minute. Antony was wiped out by Bravo on the edge of the box, and substitute Philippe Coutinho stepped up to give the ‘Seleção’ an unassailable 3-0 lead. Richarlison added a fourth late on with a fine swiveled finish to secure the points, and tighten Brazil’s grip on top spot of CONMEBOL qualifying. Chile, meanwhile, sit seventh in the table heading into the final matchday, and need something of a minor miracle to have any chance of qualification.

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