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Brazilian striker Neymar controls the ball during the friendly match against Japan in Tokyo © AFP / CHARLY TRIBALLEAU

Tokyo (AFP), June 6 – Brazil coach Tite said his side’s “mentality” could make the difference at the World Cup, after beating a stubborn Japan in a 1-0 friendly win in Tokyo on Monday.

Neymar broke the deadlock from the penalty spot in the 77th minute, but only after Japan had frustrated Brazil with a dogged defensive effort.

Tite expects to meet similar resistance at the World Cup in Qatar and he was pleased with how his side continued to fare against Japan.

“It was a very high level match, both teams showed their quality and it was very competitive,” he said.

“I said yesterday that it will be a match played at the same level as the World Cup, especially in terms of the mentality. We were determined to score and we kept looking for a goal, and that’s what made us earned the win.

Tite has dismissed suggestions of a rift in the Brazil side, calling reports that forwards Richarlison and Vinicius Junior faced each other in training on Saturday as “fake news”.

The pair were filmed being pulled apart by teammates – a clip which Richarlison later posted to his Instagram page – but it was unclear whether the incident was serious or a joke.

“There’s a lot of fake news in the world, and people reporting players fighting are telling lies,” Tite said.

Richarlison came off the bench to win Brazil’s penalty when Japanese midfielder Wataru Endo slammed into him from behind.

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Brazil seemed to have an easier evening when Lucas Paqueta hit the post in the second minute following a cheeky back heel strike from Neymar.

Instead, the home side stabilized the ship and started creating their own opportunities, with platinum blonde winger Junya Ito causing problems on Brazil’s left flank.

Goalkeeper Shuchi Gonda bailed out Japan several times and manager Hajime Moriyasu was disappointed to get nothing out of the game.

“We fought well, the players held on and they never forgot to go for goal or to attack,” said Moriyasu, whose side also qualified for the World Cup and will face Germany and Spain in Qatar.

“It’s a real shame that we couldn’t get the result.”

Brazil arrived in Tokyo after a 5-1 loss to South Korea in Seoul last week, where Neymar scored twice to take his international goals tally to 73.

His penalty against Japan took it to 74 – just three shy of Pele’s legendary record of 77 goals for Brazil.

Brazil assistant coach Cesar Sampaio said the team’s two-game tour of Asia had been a good “simulation” for the World Cup.

“Korea are more physical and have more movement than Japan, and Japan are very technical and good in defence,” he said.

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“Moriyasu has built a very good mechanism for his team. They hadn’t lost in eight games, so he’s doing a great job.

Moriyasu said there was “a lot of praise” in his own team’s performance, days after beating Paraguay 4-1.

“The players never gave up, they kept repeating the important things over and over again,” he said.

“After coming under very heavy pressure in the first half, we managed to develop our own form in the second.

“If we hadn’t hung on like that, we could have been swept away,” he added.