Neymar Brazil
Brazil forward Neymar celebrates after scoring against Argentina in a FIFA World Cup qualifier, November 10, 2016Reuters

Three clinical, wonderfully-taken goals and Brazil banished the ghosts of Belo Horizonte in some style by defeating their biggest rivals Argentina in the FIFA World Cup qualifiers. Brazil were just too good and too accomplished against an Argentina side struggling for confidence and in deep trouble in the qualification standings.

On the ground where Brazil suffered their most embarrassing defeat, when Germany thumped them 7-1 in the 2014 World Cup semifinals, the home team showed they have moved on from that loss in terrific fashion.

Philippe Coutinho opened the scoring for Brazil in the first half, before Neymar made it 2-0 just before halftime. Paulinho added the gloss in the second period and easy as pie Brazil firmed their place at the top of the South American standings.

Coutinho opened the scoring in the 24th minute and it was trademark fashion as well. Once the ball rolled towards him at the left from Neymar, Coutinho put his head down, skipped passed a couple of Argentina defenders to create enough space for a shot, before curling a wonderful strike into the top corner.

Just before the break, Brazil went 2-0 up and it was clinical stuff from the home side. Gabriel Jesus slid Neymar in with a beautiful through ball, and the Barcelona forward provided the necessary finish, slotting the ball calmly into the bottom corner.

Argentina needed to show some fight, try and get an early goal in the second half to make a game of it, but this was a match Brazil were never going to lose.

After a Marcelo cross from the left was hooked back into the danger area by Renato Augusto, Paulinho pounced first to force the ball into the back of the net just before the hour to end Argentina's miserable day.

The win keeps Brazil top of the table with 24 points from 11 matches. Uruguay are second on 23 points, and then there is a bit of a gap. Colombia currently lie third on 18, followed by Ecuador and Chile on 17 each. Argentina are sixth at the moment with 16 points and they need to go on a winning run to avoid missing out on the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Only the top four are guaranteed qualification, with the fifth-placed team playing a playoff. If Argentina were to stay in the position they are in now at the end of the qualifiers, they would not even get that opportunity.

Lionel Messi came back from retirement for have another crack at a major tournament title, but, before that, the Barcelona superstar needs to make sure Argentina get there, and a few goals from his magical boot will be more than welcome.

Results: Brazil 3-0 Argentina; Colombia 0-0 Chile; Uruguay 2-1 Ecuador; Paraguay 1-4 Peru; Venezuela 5-0 Bolivia.

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