Philippe Coutinho returned to action for Brazil on Thursday night for the first time since handing in a transfer request at Liverpool.
With the Spanish transfer deadline closing on Friday night there could be one last twist in that particular tale, but the playmaker put that to one side against Ecuador in his side’s World Cup qualifier in Porto Alegre.
Having not trained or played in nearly a month, Brazil manager Tite saw fit to leave Coutinho on the bench as Willian partnered Neymar and Gabriel Jesus in attack, but with the Ecuadorian defence holding firm, the former Inter man entered the fray just before the hour mark.
He made his presence felt almost immediately as the visitors’ backline became more stretched, and while Paulinho opened the scoring with twenty minutes remaining, Coutinho sealed the win seven minutes later after a mazy dribbling run and brilliant link-up play with Jesus in the box.
— Samantha Quek (@SamanthaQuek) September 1, 2017
Coutinho showed no sign of the back issue, which was “brought on by anxiety” according to the Brazilian team doctor treating him during the week, and it remains to be seen in what condition he returns for training in Melwood next week.
Good news for Liverpool – Coutinho over his back injury…. https://t.co/EVal1i6jth
— Mark Ogden (@MarkOgden_) September 1, 2017
— Chris Bascombe (@_ChrisBascombe) September 1, 2017
Philippe Coutinho’s back still giving him trouble, I see… pic.twitter.com/tRGxopQovm
— Evan Bartlett (@ev_bartlett) September 1, 2017
Philippe Coutinho’s “back injury caused by anxiety” getting better and better. Comes on and scores for Brazil in 2-0 win against Ecuador
— Kaveh Solhekol (@SkyKaveh) September 1, 2017
That is, of course, unless Barca pull a rabbit out of the hat and convince Liverpool to sell on deadline day. The Premier League club have been adamant that he will not be sold in this window, but there may still be one final bid over the course of the next twelve hours.
On this week’s episode of the Mixer Irish football podcast, we speak to Longford boss Neale Fenn about his start to managerial life and look ahead to this weekend’s LOI fixtures and Ireland internationals.