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Brazil 2 Ecuador 0: Barca target Coutinho and Paulinho inspire win


Barcelona target Philippe Coutinho came off the bench and scored as Brazil defeated Ecuador 2-0 to seal their position as winners of the CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying section.

Coutinho was named on the bench for Thursday's qualifier in Porto Alegre having not played for Liverpool this season due to a back problem and illness amid ongoing speculation linking him with Barca.

But the Liverpool star put uncertainty surrounding his future aside to double Brazil's lead with 14 minutes remaining after a stunning one-two with team-mate Gabriel Jesus.

It was a sight to excite Barca fans after new signing Paulinho broke Ecuador's stubborn resistance seven minutes earlier – his fourth goal in four internationals.

Already assured of their spot at the World Cup in Russia next year, Brazil cannot be caught atop the South American standings after moving 11 points clear of second-placed Colombia with three games remaining, while Ecuador are seventh and three points adrift of the play-off position.

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