Arsenal star Gabriel Martinelli plays important role as Brazil set World Cup record
Gabriel Martinelli made his second senior appearance for Brazil as they set a new points record, and the Arsenal youngster had a hand in one of his country’s goals.
Arsenal striker Gabriel Martinelli continued his rapid start as a senior Brazil international, coming off the bench to help Tite’s side wrap up a 4-0 World Cup qualifying victory in Bolivia.
The 20-year-old had shown his qualities in training, having earned a senior call-up thanks to impressive form at club level. And now, months away from the World Cup in Qatar, he is pleading for his inclusion.
Martinelli made his debut in the previous qualifier against Chile, making a late appearance in a home win. This time, however, he had an active role to play in the Selecao third of the night with impressive pressing up front.
Martinelli again started the game on the bench but was started just 10 minutes into the second half as a replacement for Philippe Coutinho. Just 10 minutes later, Brazil’s 2-0 lead had become three with the Gunners striker playing an important role.
His pressure from the front brought an error from the Bolivian defense, allowing Lucas Paqueta to capitalize. The Lyonnais sent an accurate pass into Bruno Guimaraes’ path, and the Newcastle United midfielder flew home.
Martinelli was praised by his teammates for his part in the move. The third goal all but wrapped up Tite’s men’s victory, and a late fourth from Everton striker Richarlison added some shine to the scoring.
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Brazil’s victory took them to 45 points in 17 qualifiers, with 40 goals scored and just five conceded. It breaks the previous South American qualifying record, with Marcelo Bielsa’s Argentina side picking up 43 points en route to the 2002 World Cup.
Brazil have one more game to add to their tally. The September 2021 meeting with Argentina was scrapped just minutes after kick-off amid Covid-related controversy, and FIFA has yet to set a new date for the rearranged game.
While Brazil and Argentina had already qualified ahead of the March fixtures, the other CONMEBOL nations have now finished their campaign with all places decided. Uruguay and Ecuador both sealed their places, while Peru’s victory over Paraguay in their last qualifier was enough to send them into an intercontinental play-off.
Ricardo Gareca’s side will now have to overtake the winner of an AFC play-off between Australia and the United Arab Emirates. The inter-confederation match will take place in Qatar in June, with teams from CONCACAF and Oceania meeting in the same week, to help decide the final two qualifiers for the World Cup final.