RICHARLISON rode to Brazil’s rescue to sink Ecuador before a late penalty farce.
The Everton striker, 24, fired Tite’s men to a fifth straight World Cup qualifying victory when they looked like being shut out.
Brazil were lacklustre all night in their first game for seven months after March’s fixtures were cancelled due to Covid travel problems.
But Richarlison’s left-foot rocket sent them on their way to three points and moved them four clear of second-placed Argentina.
Neymar added a late second from the spot after a dubious VAR call and an even more controversial decision to retake.
Gabriel Jesus was initially adjudged to have fouled Angelo Preciado but replays showed the foul was on the Man City man.
PSG striker Neymar stepped up but his awful spot-kick was easily saved by goalkeeper Alexander Dominguez.
The Ecuador stopper was inches off his line, if that, and Neymar was given another chance to convert.
Dominguez was shown a yellow card for his furious protests and Neymar slotted home at the second attempt to breathe a sigh of relief.
Tite’s men stayed on course to reach Qatar 2022 amid a backdrop of Copa America chaos with the tournament due to start next week in major doubt.
Brazilian players are reportedly ready to boycott the event that was moved to their country from Argentina and Colombia at just two weeks’ notice.
Gabriel Barbosa got the nod up front in this World Cup qualifier alongside Neymar and Richarlison with both Gabriel Jesus and Roberto Firmino left on the bench.
And the Flamengo man came closest to breaking through in the first half but goalkeeper Dominguez rushed out to close down the angles.
Barbosa had the ball in the net just before half-time with a smart finish from a low cross but the offside flag went up straight away.
Neymar and Richarlison were largely held in check during a dry first half in Porto Alegre.
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The PSG man had a long-range effort late in the first half that left goalkeeper Dominguez scrambling and happy, in the end, to force it behind for a corner.
Tite threw on Man City’s Jesus on the hour mark in place of midfielder Fred, who was lucky to avoid a second yellow moments earlier.
And the extra attacking threat helped Brazil finally make the breakthrough with 25 minutes to play.
Neymar picked up the ball 40 yards from goal and slotted it into the path of Richarlison on the left flank.
The Everton striker had options, including cutting back to Barbosa or Jesus.
But he fired it low and hard into the near corner past a helpless Dominguez and much to the relief of Tite.
Gabriel Jesus and Barbosa both had late chances to add a second before the latter was replaced by Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino.
Neymar then got Brazil’s second from the penalty spot after getting a chance at a retake.
And he slotted home his 65th goal for Brazil to take him just 12 behind Pele as Ecuador were left to lick their wounds.