Qualifying Stage
  • Paulinho (69')
  • Philippe Coutinho (76')

Coutinho score as Brazil secure first place with Ecuador win

Philippe Coutinho celebrates after scoring a goal for Brazil against Ecuador. Getty Images

Liverpool midfielder Philippe Coutinho put aside speculation about his club future to help Brazil beat Ecuador and secure a first-placed finish in their World Cup qualification group.

Coutinho is hoping to join Barcelona this summer but Liverpool have rejected three bids from the Catalan giants for their playmaker, the last a £118 million offer made up of a large number of add-ons.

The English transfer window is now closed but the Spanish remains open for a day longer so the 25-year-old may yet find himself the subject of one final push by Barcelona for his services on Friday.

The former Inter Milan man did not let any of that distract him from the task at hand, though, climbing off the bench to score Brazil's second goal in a 2-0 win in Porto Alegre.

Paulinho, who himself joined Barcelona earlier this summer, had given Brazil a 69th-minute lead in a victory which leaves the already-qualified Selecao 11 points clear at the top of the CONMEBOL table with three games remaining

Brazil dominated the match but were made to wait for the opening goal as Ecuador goalkeeper Maximo Banguera kept them at bay, including a brilliant save to tip over Gabriel Jesus' far-post header just before the hour.

Banguera could do little about the goal that put Brazil ahead soon after, however, with former Tottenham midfielder Paulinho smashing home after Willian's corner had fallen to him six yards out.

Coutinho, who has missed the start of Liverpool's Premier League campaign with a back problem, then sealed Brazil's ninth successive win in qualifying seven minutes later after linking up superbly with Gabriel.

The Manchester City youngster, having been sent into the box by Coutinho's chip, bravely put his body on the line to head the ball back to his teammate as Ecuador defender Pedro Velasco clattered into him.

Gabriel was left him winded on the floor but Coutinho ensured his pain was not for nothing as he side-footed home with Banguera -- as he did with Paulinho's goal -- getting a touch on the shot but unable to keep it out.