Luiz Felipe Scolari was spared an unhappy return to Stamford Bridge as Fred scored in the final minute to rescue a 1-1 draw for Brazil in their friendly against Russia on Monday.
The former Chelsea boss looked to be heading for his second defeat in three games since taking charge of the Selecao for the second time after Viktor Fayzulin deservedly put Russia ahead in the second half. But in the closing seconds, Brazil finally produced an incisive move and Fred tapped home.
Yet, after losing to England to begin his second spell in charge and then drawing against Italy last week, this performance emphasized just how much work still lies ahead for the 2002 World Cup winning coach to turn Brazil into realistic contenders to claim the prize on home soil next year.
In contrast, despite the late goal, Fabio Capello will be content that his fine undefeated record continues since replacing Dick Advocaat last year.
After their World Cup qualifier with Northern Ireland had twice been postponed in recent days, Russia began like a team relishing finally getting a game going.
They were certainly on top early on and came close to a goal in the first five minutes as Julio Cesar just kept out Sergei Ignashevich’s free-kick.
Aleksandr Kerzhakov also threatened as he struck wide of the near post on the right and Roman Shirokov looked poised to score but saw his close-range effort denied by Marcelo.
Brazil gradually came back into proceedings, but were still far from impressive with Neymar failing to make the most of a couple of half chances.
The half ended with Russia again looking dangerous as Fayzulin’s near post effort was just palmed wide by Julio Cesar.
Capello elected to make a trio of changes at the start if the second half and it appeared to have an impact on the proceedings as the tempo initially decreased.
Neymar almost grabbed an unlikely opening goal when his errant cross was almost dropped into his own net by Russia goalkeeper Vladimir Gabulov.
But with 17 minutes remaining the match finally saw its opening goal. A prolonged scramble in the goal mouth saw Kerzhakov and Shirokov both have shots desperately blocked but Brazil failed to get the ball away before Fayzulin finally drilled the ball low through Julio Cesar.
Badly needing something to avoid a disappointing loss, Brazil finally started to up their game. The combination between Marcelo and Hulk down the left was beginning to look dangerous and the Real Madrid full-back shot wide after Hulk’s pull back.
And with time ticking away, Brazil came up with their best move of the match to draw level. Hulk slipped the ball down the left of the area to Marcelo, who instantly slid it across the six-yard box for Fred to side-foot home to keep his record going of scoring in each match since Scolari’s return.
Sports reporter, mainly focusing on my native sport of soccer, but also dabbling in some tennis and Formula One.