Liverpool striker Roberto Firmino scored a brace to help Brazil in thrashing Bolivia 5-0 in their opening FIFA World Cup 2022 Qualifiers match on Friday.

Barcelona playmaker Philippe Coutinho and Paris Saint-Germain defender Marquinhos were also there on the scoresheet at the empty Corinthians Arena in Sao Paulo.

The lackadaisical Bolivia team almost showed no sign of intent and allowed Brazil to run a rout. Brazil had the chance to go 1-0 up in just the fourth minute of the match before Marquinhos headed off-target the cross from Everton.

Brazil’s strong push paid the dividends in the 16th minute as the PSG defender did not make a second mistake and headed home full-back Danilo’s cross from a similar position.

Bolivia couldn’t get out of their half and failed to take control of the possession as well, while Coutinho and Everton created a slew of chances down Brazil’s left.

Even a downpour couldn’t halt Brazil’s momentum as Coutinho forced a diving save from Bolivian keeper Carlos Lampe.

The former Bayern Munich player, staying true to his current form, then found Firmino who took Brazil 2-0 up in 30th minute.

At times it looked like a handball game with Brazil camped on the edge of Bolivia’s box, and the visitors keeping 10 men behind the ball at all times.

But on the half hour, left-back Renan Lodi got in behind the defence and his cross from the left was turned home from barely a yard out by Firmino.

Lampe made a fine one-handed save from a Casemiro free-kick and then smothered a close range finish by Neymar.

If there were still any doubts Brazil would stroll to victory, they were dispelled three minutes into the second period when a sublime pass from Neymar presented Firmino with a tap-in from six yards.

On 65 minutes, a cross from Coutinho flew into the net off the unlucky Jose Carrasco’s chest.

Coutinho then got on the scoresheet heading home a cross from Neymar from six yards.

Neymar’s attempts to join retired great Ronaldo as Brazil’s second highest scorer of all time were frustrated by an offside flag and an injury time save by Lampe.

With inputs from AFP (accessed via PTI)