Brazil cruise past Peru with 4-0 Copa America win

Brazil cruise past Peru with 4-0 Copa America win
Peru's Renato Tapia (L) and Brazil's Neymar vie for the ball during their Conmebol Copa America 2021 football tournament group phase match at the Nilton Santos Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on June 17, 2021. Photo: MAURO PIMENTEL / AFP

Rio De Janeiro: With Neymar in fine form and scoring a goal that took him past Ronaldo on the country's all-time goals list, Brazil scored early in the game and then got three more in a commanding second half to defeat Peru 4-0 in their Copa America clash on Thursday.

The result means Brazil are the first team in the tournament to win both their first games, and immediately go to the top of Group B, two points ahead of Colombia, who drew 0-0 with Venezuela earlier in the day.

The reigning champions won their opener 3-0 against Venezuela on Sunday but although coach Tite rotated their lineup, giving starts to Ederson, Alex Sandro, Thiago Silva, Everton and Gabriel Barbosa, it still took them only 12 minutes to get the opener when Alex Sandro volleyed home a cut back from Gabriel Jesus.

Peru, who reached the final of the last Copa America only to lose 3-1 to Brazil, were not overawed but they simply could not match a team who were sharper, quicker and more resilient.

With Fabinho a commanding presence in midfield and Neymar always dangerous going forward, Brazil took more control as the game went on and Neymar got a second midway through the second half.

The Paris St Germain player had a penalty award cancelled after a consultation with the Video Assistant Referee but he was not to be denied and when his marker gave him too much space a moment later when he fired a low shot past a despairing Pedro Gallese from just outside the box.

It was Neymar's fourth goal in Brazil's last four matches and his 68th overall, taking him one past Ronaldo on Brazil's all-time goalscoring chart.

"It's obviously a great honour for me to be part of the Brazil team's history," a tearful Neymar said.

Substitute Everton Ribeiro made it 3-0 in the 89th minute when he converted a Richarlison cross.

Richarlison got a fourth in stoppage time, hooking a loose ball into the net from a prostrate position close to goal.

Alex Valera missed Perus best chance 12 minutes from time when he smashed the ball over the bar with the goal at his mercy.

Brazil have won the Copa America every time they hosted the tournament and they look strong again this year, with the win at Rios Olympic stadium their ninth in a row.

They scored 26 goals in that run and have conceded only two.

Colombia draw 0-0 with Venezuela

An understrength Venezuela managed just one shot at goal for the second game in a row but shut out a superior Colombia at the other end to grab a 0-0 draw in their Copa America tie in Goiania on Thursday.

Venezuela are one of only two nations never to win the Copa America and their already slim chances were damaged before the tournament began when eight players tested positive for COVID-19 and were forced to self-isolate.

All told, players or officials from four of the 10 teams are now isolating due to positive COVID-19 tests.

The damage was telling for Venezuela in a game where they mustered just one shot at goal compared to Colombia’s 17, requiring a dazzling performance from their goalkeeper Wuilker Farinez to keep a clean sheet.

 Venezuela's Jose Martinez in action
Venezuela's Jose Martinez in action. Photo: REUTERS/Amanda Perobelli

"I want to congratulate the rival keeper for his great performance," Colombia coach Reinaldo Rueda said. "He prevented us from celebrating a goal.""We must improve our finishing," he added.

Colombia, who beat Ecuador 1-0 in their opener on Sunday, squandered a string of opportunities and too often mishit final balls into the box against an opponent that defended in numbers.

Miguel Borja thought he had grabbed the winner for Colombia in the 90th minute only to see his effort ruled out for offside and then his side were reduced to 10 men when Luis Diaz was shown a straight red for foul play.

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