Gabriel Martinelli had a big impact in a substitute appearance for Brazil’s Olympic team on Thursday, as they turned around a 2-1 deficit to thrash the UAE.

Gabriel Martinelli with Brazil (Photo via Martinelli on Twitter)
Gabriel Martinelli with Brazil (Photo via Martinelli on Twitter)

Brazil’s Olympic football team are undergoing the final preparations for Tokyo at the moment, and on Thursday night they played a friendly against the UAE.

Gabriel Martinelli was called up late for the Olympics as a fringe member of the Brazil squad, so it wasn’t particularly surprising to see him on the bench for the game. But things didn’t go well for the team, and they ended up needing his help.

2-1 down with just 12 minutes left, Martinelli came on to try and turn things around. Within a minute, he’d had an impact.

Finding a gap between two defenders on the right-hand side of the box, Martinelli raced in behind and delivered a cross into the middle. The defender beneath it could only deflect it into the path of Reinier, who volleyed home.

Four minutes later, Martinelli had a goal of his own, tapping home a header across the six-yard box to give Brazil the lead. It was his first goal at this level.

Brazil didn’t take their foot off the gas, and Martinelli had a small part to play in two more goals.

First, his challenge with a defender on the edge of the box allowed Matheus Cunha to pick up the loose ball and score. Then Martinelli and Antony pressed together to win possession for a fifth in injury time.

Although he was only officially credited with a contribution to one of the four goals scored in 12 minutes after he entered the pitch, there’s no doubt Martinelli had a role in all of them.

The question now is whether he’s done enough to elevate his status in Brazil’s ranks ahead of the actual Olympics. They kick their participation in the event off with a match against Germany next Thursday.