Brazil was frustrated by Venezuela in Sao Paulo, but Roberto Firmino's 67th-minute strike proved enough for the Selecao.
⚽️ GOAL!! At last, at long last ... #RobertoFirmino pokes the ball home and the hosts have the lead after a quick VAR check.@CBF_Futebol 1️⃣-0️⃣ @FVF_Oficial— beIN SPORTS (@beINSPORTS_AUS) November 14, 2020
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Firmino popped up with 23 minutes remaining in the absence of Neymar as Brazil stayed perfect to top the standings by two points ahead of rival Argentina.
Back in action following last month's 4-2 win in Peru, Tite made four changes – some enforced – to his starting XI, with the unfit Neymar, Casemiro (coronavirus), Philippe Coutinho and Weverton dropping out and Gabriel Jesus, Allan, Everton Ribeiro and Ederson coming in.
Brazil, which drew 0-0 against Venezuela at last year's Copa America, found the back of the net inside seven minutes but the linesman raised his flag. Richarlison had scored after Renan Lodi's mishit shot was palmed into the path of the Everton forward.
The South American champion controlled possession, but had nothing to show for it, struggling to create clear-cut chances.
An unmarked Jesus was unable to turn the ball towards goal just past the half-hour mark, instead scuffing an effort to Richarlison, who could only steer his close-range effort wide of the post.
Oh dear!! 😳 @gabrieljesus9 ❌@Richarlison_7 ❌— beIN SPORTS (@beINSPORTS_AUS) November 14, 2020
The perfect cross comes to nothing, and @CBF_Futebol is struggling a bit in this one!@CBF_Futebol 0-0 @FVF_Oficial
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Venezuela was rarely threatening, though Yeferson Soteldo slalomed into the penalty area and slid a cross into the six-yard box but Marquinhos intervened at the last moment to clear the danger.
😬 This won't help to ease any Brazilian nerves out there!!@CBF_Futebol 0-0 @FVF_Oficial— beIN SPORTS (@beINSPORTS_AUS) November 14, 2020
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Brazil had the ball in the back of the net again prior to half-time however Douglas Luiz's effort was waived off for a foul on Venezuela goalkeeper Wuilker Farinez.
❌ NO GOAL... AGAIN!!! Nothing is going right for @CBF_Futebol!!@CBF_Futebol 0-0 @FVF_Oficial— beIN SPORTS (@beINSPORTS_AUS) November 14, 2020
Watch LIVE on CONNECT @kayosports, @Foxtel & Fetch!! ▶️ https://t.co/BbHM91BkuZ#CONMEBOL | #WCQ | #BRAVEN pic.twitter.com/3UBsh1CjrN
After a VAR (video assistant referee) review for handball was waived way nine minutes into the second half, Brazil finally broke Venezuela's resistance 13 minutes later when the ball was headed into the path of Firmino, who made no mistake from close range.
Much has been said about Firmino, especially amid Diogo Jota's remarkable run of form at Liverpool. But he popped up when Brazil needed him most in this one, scoring his first goal in four matches and just his second since netting twice against Bolivia on 10 October (AEDT).
Brazil is away to Uruguay in Montevideo on Wednesday (AEDT), while Venezuela hosts Chile on the same day.
Uruguay was a big winner away against Colombia, Edinson Cavani opening the scoring after only five minutes before Luis Suarez converted a penalty and Darwin Nunez smashed home a third from long ranger to beat James Rodriguez's disappointing hosts 3-0.
Chile will also go into its next game off the back of a win after an Arturo Vidal double inspired La Roja to a 2-0 victory at home against Peru.
Vidal opened the scoring with an astonishing long-range effort from 30 yards, finding the top right corner of the goal in the 20th minute before bundling home a second 10 minutes before the break, and Peru was unable to find a way back.