The striker who moved from Porto to Zenit Saint Petersburg this week on a five-year contract created plenty of problems for a composed South African defence after his mid-second half arrival.
He gave Itumeleng Khune no chance with a close-range left-foot shot after the ball ran loose in the goalmouth when the goalkeeper blocked a David Luiz shot with the visitors appealing for offside.
Replays of the goal showed there was a Brazilian in an offside position, but the Argentine referee waved play on, believing the player was not interfering with play.
Khune foiled Brazil three times in the opening half after full-back Siboniso Gaxa wasted an early chance to put Bafana Bafana (The Boys) ahead by shooting at goalkeeper Diego Alves after cutting in.
It was an encouraging debut for South Africa coach Gordon Igesund as a side with new caps in midfielder Dean Furman and striker Dino Ndlovu never panicked under pressure from the five-time world champions.
The visitors suffered a couple of blows when Ndlovu retired with a shoulder injury on 33 minutes and replacement Benni McCarthy lasted only 12 minutes before also having to quit injured.