Uruguay made sure it was anything but a friendly for Neymar.
The Selecao captain shouldered the responsibility as Brazil snatched a narrow win over an undermanned Uruguay, who displayed their trademark fight despite having almost a whole team out through injury.
It was a far from vintage performance from Brazil and their talisman on a dreary night at Emirates Stadium - Oscar Tabarez's side made sure of it - with Neymar's second-half penalty proving the difference.
La Celeste's lengthy absentee list included goalkeeper Fernando Muslera and centre-back duo Diego Godin and Jose Gimenez, as well as midfield pair Nahitan Nandez and Camilo Mayada due to their impending Copa Libertadores final duties for Boca Juniors and River Plate respectively.
But Tabarez's team produced a typically Uruguayan display – one of intensity, toughness and counter-attacking to give Tite's side a serious test they only scraped through thanks to Neymar's 60th international goal.
Uruguay's veteran boss Tabarez may have lost trusted midfield lieutenants Diego Perez and Egidio Arevalo Rios, the menacing tandem that anchored the side that finished fourth at the 2010 World Cup and claimed a record-breaking Copa America title a year later, but his team remain dogged and difficult in the middle of the park.
On paper a midfield three of Rodrigo Bentancur, Lucas Torreira and Matias Vecino represents a significant shift – while the Arsenal midfielder combines a terrier-like quality with ball-playing abilities in the centre of the pitch, his team-mates are languid playmakers who provide the ideal foil for an attack headlined by Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani. The reality was significantly different.
The trio spent most of the match chasing down Neymar as he drifted in from the left and attempted to get Brazil firing. Vecino and Torreira were shown yellow cards for scything down the Paris Saint-Germain superstar in deep areas, his stepovers and persistent dribbling lighting the fire of La Garra Charrua – the distinctively Uruguayan trait of possessing the greater intensity, anger and desire compared to an opponent.
Uruguay's line-up appeared sure to play into Neymar's hands. His mouth would surely have been watering when La Celeste's injury problems forced Tabarez to hand Mathias Suarez a debut at right-back and place 19-year-old Bruno Mendez, also earning his first cap, next to him in the centre of defence.
But the free role he is granted by Tite and which Filipe Luis' persistent attacking enables meant he rarely tested the inexperienced duo.
The former Barcelona star pulled a save from Martin Campana with an early free-kick and only got on the scoreboard in the 76th minute when Diego Laxalt sent Danilo to ground inside the box – referee Craig Pawson pointing to the spot following a signal from assistant Ian Hussin. Uruguay were incensed their hard work had been undone and Luis Suarez was booked for his protests.
Tite opted to play Roberto Firmino through the middle, insisting prior to kick-off the Liverpool striker is a "true number nine" and not a false one. However, his desire to drop off the front and participate in the build-up play often left Brazil without a focal point, something Richarlison could have provided had he not been placed on the left after coming on for Douglas Costa.
It was left to Neymar to make the difference and, despite Uruguay's non-stop hounding making life extremely difficult for him, he had the maturity to have the final say.
|Manchester City must control Schalke, Begiristain warns|
|Ibrahimovic hints at LA Galaxy stay|
|Latham fills his boots in Wellington with record-breaking knock|
|I´m not thinking ´thank God it´s Bayern´ – Klopp|
|Luis Garcia and Steve McManaman confident of Liverpool progress|
|Arsenal face BATE as Chelsea get Malmo in Europa League|
|Europa League last 32: Draw in full|
|Irwin urges Mourinho turnaround before PSG Champions League clash|
|Rush backs German Klopp to see off Bayern|
|Hope shines as West Indies blitz Bangladesh in Sylhet|
|United and PSG set for Champions League showdown|
|Ajax star De Ligt delighted to join Golden Boy alumni|
|Champions League last 16: Draw in full|
|Lyon strikes to put Australia on course for victory in Perth|
|Mourinho´s players below Manchester United standards, says Giggs|
|We´ve got to find a way to get better in a hurry - McVay challenges spluttering Rams|
|Van Dijk hails ´game-changer´ Shaqiri for downing Man United|
|LeBron praises magical Wall as Lakers fall flat on the road|
|Champions League last 16: Who could get who in Monday´s draw?|
|Pochettino urges fans to ´kill´ racism ahead of EFL Cup derby|
|Ajax star De Ligt wins Golden Boy award|
|Foles fuels Eagles´ upset win over Rams|
|Latham carries bat as New Zealand leave Sri Lanka reeling|
|Keep your cool, Virat – Paine and Kohli in another confrontation|
|Depleted Nuggets complete season sweep of Raptors|
|Fabinho was ´outstanding´, says Klopp|
|Patriots QB Brady on loss to Steelers: We aren´t playing well enough to win|
|Elliott says Cowboys´ shut-out loss to Colts was embarrassing|
|De Bruyne not worried about Liverpool title challenge|
|Sixers star Simmons makes history with triple-double|
|WATCH: Nowitzki receives standing ovation in first home game of season|
|Seattle´s playoff spot on hold after Seahawks suffer OT loss to 49ers|
|Cheika survives as Wallabies coach, Johnson appointed|
|Vikings remain in NFC playoff picture|
|Steelers stay ahead as Patriots lose AFC´s second seed|
|Lionel Messi is the best, says Amor|
|I´m still tired just looking at Robertson – Mourinho in awe of Liverpool intensity|
|Casillas takes swipe at Mourinho after United lose to Liverpool|
|Valverde relieved as Messi brilliance prevents another Levante nightmare|
|WATCH: Leno proposes to girlfriend after Bears clinch division title|
|Messi and Suarez the world´s best strike partnership, says Pique|
|Klopp: I cannot keep every Liverpool player happy|
|Messi and Suarez outscoring Real Madrid and Atletico in LaLiga|
|Levante 0 Barcelona 5: Marvellous Messi banishes ghosts of last season|
|Colts rout Cowboys to keep playoff hopes alive|
|Bears shake off Packers to win NFC North and return to playoffs|
|Mourinho explains Pogba omission and defends Lukaku´s Liverpool showing|
|Liverpool´s display against Manchester United one of the best, claims Klopp|
|Look away Jose! Damning stats expose Manchester United´s limp Liverpool loss|
|Time´s up, Mourinho: Manchester United can dither no longer|
|Manchester United´s players are not dishonest – Mourinho|
|Manchester United´s lack of ambition under Mourinho is scary – Keane|
|Mourinho: All Manchester United can achieve is fourth|
|Quagliarella should be protected by UNESCO, jokes Sampdoria coach|
|Manchester United surpass last season´s goals-against tally in first 17 games|
|Hasenhuttl revels in ´unbelievable´ victory over Arsenal|
|Liverpool 3 Manchester United 1: Shaqiri´s late show bails out Alisson as Reds return to the top|
|Edinburgh in control in Champions Cup, Racing win again|
|Emery ponders January signing after Bellerin injury|
|It is only a knock – Sarri plays down Hazard injury fears|
|Redskins QB Alex Smith released from hospital|
|Starc: If I listen to Warne, I may as well retire|
|Curry interviews retired NASA astronaut, apologises for moon comments|
|Hazard refusing to give up on Premier League title hopes|
|Ziyech & Blind score hat-tricks as Ajax claim 8-0 win|
|Canelo v Fielding: What next for three-weight champion Alvarez?|
|Southampton 3 Arsenal 2: Austin and Ings end Gunners´ long unbeaten run|
|Brighton and Hove Albion 1 Chelsea 2: Sensational Hazard proves the difference|
|Pogba on the bench as Clyne starts for Liverpool|
|Lipsky ends long barren spell in Malelane|