Brazil failed to win their opening game of a World Cup for the first time since 1978 as Switzerland earned a valuable draw in Rostov-on-Don
The five-time champions, so often lauded for their flair, failed to sparkle after Philippe Coutinho’s superbly curled opener on 20 minutes.
Tite’s side – with Gabriel Jesus and Willian alongside Neymar in a front three – could offer only fleeting moments of fluid play and Steven Zuber’s header from a corner earned the Swiss a deserved point.
Steven Zuber cancelled out a strike from Philippe Coutinho as Switzerland came from behind to draw 1-1 with Brazil in Sunday night’s Group E clash at the 2018 World Cup.
Coutinho’s curling effort had seen tournament favourites Brazil take a 20th-minute lead, but an impressive Switzerland levelled early in the second period, and that was where the scoring ended in Rostov.
Switzerland had the first opportunity of the match inside the first three minutes, but Blerim Dzemaili – who had been found by Xherdan Shaqiri – could only lift the ball over the Brazilian crossbar from close range.
Brazil’s first chance arrived in the 11th minute when Neymar’s low cross was deflected into Paulinho, but the Barcelona midfielder saw his effort pushed wide by Swiss goalkeeper Yann Sommer.
Switzerland enjoyed themselves in the early exchanges, but Brazil upped the tempo as the first period progressed, with Neymar, Coutinho and Gabriel Jesus all finding space in dangerous positions.
It was Coutinho who broke the deadlock in the 20th minute when the Barcelona midfielder found space outside the Switzerland box before curling an absolute dream of an effort into the back of the net off the post.
Thiago Silva had the chance to double Brazil’s lead late in the first period when he met a corner from Neymar, but the centre-back’s header missed the crossbar as Coutinho’s strike separated the two teams at the break.
Switzerland were level less than five minutes into the second half, however, when Zuber headed a Shaqiri corner into the back of the net from close range.
Coutinho twice had efforts blocked in the period that followed, while Neymar saw a strike deflected into the side-netting as Brazil looked to hit back before the hour mark in Rostov.
Fernandinho replaced Casemiro in Brazil’s first change of the match in the 60th minute, and the Manchester City midfielder had a long-range strike deflected just wide of the Switzerland post six minutes later, before Renato Augusto entered the field for the Selecao.
Coutinho sliced one wide of the post 20 minutes from time following excellent work from Neymar once again, before Dzemaili tested the gloves of Brazil goalkeeper Alisson Becker down the other end of the field.
Roberto Firmino and Breel Embolo were both introduced for the final 10 minutes of action, and the former fired one over the Switzerland crossbar moments after entering the action.
Neymar then headed into the arms of Sommer in the 88th minute, before the Switzerland goalkeeper denied Firmino moments later. Miranda also came close to snatching it late for the Brazilians, with the centre-back’s volley falling just wide.
Next up for Brazil is a clash with Costa Rica on Friday afternoon, while Switzerland will take on group leaders Serbia.