Coutinho scores in Brazil qualifier win

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Coutinho joined Liverpool from Inter Milan for £8.5m in 2013

Liverpool midfielder Philippe Coutinho scored on his first appearance of the season as Brazil beat Ecuador 2-0 in a World Cup qualifier on Thursday.

The 25-year-old has missed the start of the Reds’ campaign with a back injury amid interest from Barcelona.

Liverpool have rejected three Barca bids, the latest in the region of £114m, with the transfer window in Spain to close later on Friday.

Coutinho combined with Gabriel Jesus to add Brazil’s second goal.

After Coutinho sent a clever lobbed pass into Jesus’ path, the Manchester City forward bravely headed back across goal for Coutinho to slot in.

Barcelona’s new midfielder Paulinho, formerly of Tottenham, had put Brazil 1-0 up.

Brazil have already qualified for next summer’s World Cup in Russia, and they lead the South American standings by 11 points from Colombia.

Argentina are currently fifth in the 10-team qualification standings with three matches remaining, which would only earn them a play-off place.

Lionel Messi’s side played out a 0-0 draw in Uruguay during which Barca’s Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez limped off with eight minutes left.

The 30-year-old later tweeted that he was “OK” and had only been suffering from “muscle cramps”.

Before the match, Suarez and Barca team-mate Messi posed for photos in special kits promoting a pan South-American bid to host the 2030 World Cup.

Suarez and Messi’s international meeting ended in a stalemate

Earlier on Thursday, Paraguay’s president said the country was joining with Argentina and Uruguay to bid for the tournament, with Chile also reportedly set to join.

In June, European football’s governing body Uefa said it would “strongly support” either a pan-British or an English bid to host in 2030.

A joint bid from the United States, Mexico and Canada is the favourite to win hosting rights for the 2026 tournament, with Morocco the only other candidate so far.

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