Finally given a starting berth in the Selecao team, the Paulista-prodigy responded in the best possible way to prove himself as a top-class player
By Daniel Edwards | South American Football Editor
As the dust settled on the second Superclasico de las Americas on Wednesday evening, there was little doubt that Brazil deserved their 2-0 victory, as a result winning the inaugural two-legged tournament. The Selecao looked a different team on home soil from the one which stuttered in Cordoba, and a vibrant, fluid attacking line-up dominated across the 90 minutes.
Little wonder, maybe, given the presence of stars of the calibre of Neymar and Ronaldinho, who between them would most likely command a higher transfer fee than the entire Albiceleste side put together. But while the Santos man was given the full Backstreet Boys treatment from an adoring, shrieking Belem crowd, it was his Sao Paulo partner in crime and fellow teenage prodigy who really caught the eye.
Lucas Rodrigues Moura da Silva played just 63 minutes of the derby clash, but even so, it was one of the most eye-catching performances from any man wearing the Canarinha in recent memory. Playing as the link between two holding midfielders and a trio of attackers, the 19-year-old was irrepressible as he gave the Argentine defence a nightmarish hour.
Eduardo Dominguez and co. did everything they could to stop the diminutive dribbler, but almost invariably it was to no avail as Lucas skipped past them with glee. Even a forearm to the face from the Velez Sarsfield destroyer could not slow him down; the youngster picked himself back up, wiped away a bloody nose and returned to his task of tearing apart the Argentina backline piece by piece.
|A SELECAO SENSATION
|FROM OUR LIVE COMMENTARY|
|HT||Lucas Moura has perhaps been the best player on the pitch. His pace is causing Papa some serious problems down Brazil's right-hand side.|
| PLAYER RATING
|8||A truly excellent performance from the young Sao Paulo starlet. His electric pace caused constant problems for the defence and helped him break the defensive line before showing composure beyond his years to finish.|
And not just on the ball did Lucas shine. His movement and cooperation with team-mates gave Brazil an attacking edge throughout, demonstrated perfectly by his goal. Countering after an Argentina corner, the Sao Paulo man found himself free on the halfway line and cantered unchecked towards goal, showing strength and a clear head to slide the ball home and put the Selecao on the way to victory.
It takes something special to outshine personalities as gargantuan as Neymar and Ronaldinho, especially when his fellow wonderkid also found the net. The reserved, modest Lucas could not be more different in character to those two extroverts, but, on the pitch, he can clearly match them pass for pass, shot for shot and dribble for mazy dribble.
Of course, there will be far greater challenges ahead than a dogged but technically deficient local Argentina side. However, after appearing only in fits and starts for the national team, Lucas proved to coach Mano Menezes that he is up to the challenge of carrying the midfield, and in a position that has been a problem for the trainer ever since taking over.
Blessed with world-class defenders and an attack capable of causing headaches for any team, it was clear for all to see that it was the middle of the park that was letting the five-time World Cup winners down.
Lucas Leiva is almost beyond discussion as the side's holding man, but around him, players like Ramires and Elano failed to provide the necessary creative spark or dynamism to get the squad moving forward; arguably the principal reason why a lacklustre Copa America ended in ignominy at the quarter-final stage.
Now, however, there is a glimpse of light. Outstanding in the past two years for Sao Paulo and the Brazilian under-20s, young Lucas Moura proved beyond a doubt that he can translate his talents to the senior international arena. There is a long way to go before Brazil feel the immense pressure of carrying a whole nation's expectations on their shoulders, but even now the teenager must be considered as a serious contender for a starting place as the Verde-Amarela begin their preparations for the 2014 World Cup.
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