August 5, 2021

Neymar helps Brazil to opening Copa America win

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Brazil kicked off a Copa America tournament that has been opposed by some members of its own team with a 3-0 win over Venezuela on Sunday.

Marquinhos, Neymar and Gabriel Barbosa scored in the opener at the Man Garrincha stadium in Brasilia, less than a day after several Venezuelan players tested positive for COVID-19.

South American soccer’s governing body, CONMEBOL, chose Brazil as host less than two weeks ago, despite its alarming COVID-19 figures, after Argentina and Colombia were dropped as co-hosts.

Despite his opposition to staging the tournament in his home country, Brazil captain Casemiro said the defending champions intended to retain their trophy.

Venezuela summoned 15 new players at short notice after eight squad members tested positive for COVID-19 on Saturday, and the disruption showed on the field. The Selecao wasted opportunities but faced little resistance from Venezuela.

Brazil opened the scoring in the 23rd minute when Marquinhos finished from close range after a corner.

Brazil coach Tite, who also opposed holding the tournament, took Lucas Paquet off at half-time for Everton Ribeiro, who provided more dynamism on the right flank.

And it was Ribeiro who found Danilo on the edge of the box in the 63rd minute before he was taken down and a penalty was awarded. Neymar calmly scored from the spot to make it 2-0.

In the last minute, Neymar dribbled past Venezuelan goalkeeper Joel Graterol and crossed for Barbosa to chest the ball into the empty net.

Meanwhile, Colombia were also in Group A action. They began their campaign with a 1-0 win over Ecuador, with Edwin Cardona scoring the only goal of the game three minutes before half-time.