Goalkeeper gaffe helps Brazil trounce Peru to reach quarterfinals

Brazil’s Willian, right, celebrates after scoring against Peru during their Copa America football tournament group match at the Corinthians Arena in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on June 22, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 24 June 2019

Goalkeeper gaffe helps Brazil trounce Peru to reach quarterfinals

  • Peru must now wait to see what happens in the other two groups to find out if they will qualify for the knockout rounds

SAO PAULO: Peru goalkeeper Pedro Gallese committed a horrendous error as Brazil ensured top spot in their Copa America group on Saturday with a 5-0 victory in Sao Paulo.
Goals from Casemiro, Roberto Firmino, Everton, Dani Alves and Willian ensured the Selecao would finish top of Group A and will play their quarterfinal in Porto Alegre, potentially against out-of-sorts Argentina, their bitter rivals.
“We knew we’d get there sooner or later because we worked very hard,” captain Alves told TV Globo.
“It’s thanks to wins like this that we’re connected with the fans. When we’re all together, we feel the positive energy,” he added, alluding to the jeers that greeted the team in their first two group matches.
With Peru already 1-0 down, it was Gallese’s dreadful error that led to Firmino’s goal and swept the mat from under Peru’s feet, with the game turning into a rout.
Darwin Machis scored a brace as Venezuela beat Bolivia 3-1 in Belo Horizonte and leapfrogged Peru into second place, securing a quarterfinal at Rio de Janeiro’s iconic Maracana stadium.
Peru, who finish third on four points, must now wait nervously to see what happens in the other two groups on Sunday and Monday to find out if they will qualify for the knockout rounds as one of the two best third-place finishers.
Never before since the Copa America adopted a 12-team format in 1993 with eight sides going through to the quarterfinals, has a side mustering four points failed to progress.
Hosts Brazil took an early lead in scrappy fashion when Philippe Coutinho’s corner was flicked on at the near post for Marquinhos to head goalwards from inside the six-yard box, with Gallese rooted to his line.
The ball came back off the post, grazed Marquinhos’s shoulder and was then headed over the line by Casemiro on 12 minutes.
If Gallese was partly at fault there for not commanding his area, he was totally to blame for Brazil’s second.
The goalkeeper dallied over a clearance and when he tried to hoof the ball upfield, it cannoned off a jumping Firmino, looped over his head and again came back off the post.
The ball bounced back to Firmino who waltzed around the stranded Gallese and slotted the ball into the empty net on 19 minutes.
Peru had barely been in the game but captain Paolo Guerrero did curl a free-kick over the top.
Yet the match was effectively over as a contest on 32 minutes when Everton cut in off the left flank and fired a snap effort into the bottom corner, with Gallese a touch slow to react and beaten at his near post.
With almost two thirds of the match to go, Peru were relying on a favor from Bolivia to hold onto second place in the group.
Brazil, who were boosted by a visit from the injured and absent Neymar on Friday, did not let up in the second half.
Alves was next in on the scoring act after playing a pair of one-twos with Arthur and Firmino before firing across Gallese on 53 minutes.
Willian sealed the rout in the last minute with a stunning strike from the corner of the 18-yard box.
And there was still time for Gallese to give away and then save a Gabriel Jesus penalty in stoppage time.
In Belo Horizonte, Venezuela were off to a dream start when Machis headed home a cross from Ronald Hernandez in the second minute.
Machis doubled Venezuela’s lead on 58 minutes, converting a pass from Tomas Rincon.
But just after Jhon Chancellor missed the chance to extend Venezuela’s lead when he hit the bar with a header, Leonel Justiniano pulled back a goal for Bolivia from outside the area.
Venezuela, though, were not to be denied and Josef Martinez flick home a header from Yeferson Soltedo’s dinked cross to book their place in the knockout stages.
“We dedicate this to the whole country, which is always keeping an eye on us,” said Martinez.


The NBA MVP finalists: Antetokounmpo, James and Harden

Updated 09 August 2020

The NBA MVP finalists: Antetokounmpo, James and Harden

  • James would join Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (a six-time winner), Michael Jordan and Bill Russell as the NBA’s only five-time MVPs
  • Antetokounmpo is bidding to become the 12th back-to-back winner of the award

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Florida: This season’s NBA MVP has won the award before.
A trio of past winners of the award — reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks, four-time MVP LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers and 2017-18 winner James Harden of the Houston Rockets — were announced Saturday as the finalists for this season’s top NBA individual honor.
James would join Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (a six-time winner), Michael Jordan and Bill Russell as the NBA’s only five-time MVPs. Antetokounmpo is bidding to become the 12th back-to-back winner of the award, and Harden is vying for his second MVP in three seasons.
“He’s an incredible teammate, plays unselfishly, does everything,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said of Antetokounmpo last month, stating his best player’s MVP case. “And I think that’s kind of what the MVP is, so we certainly feel like he’s very deserving and we’ll be excited to support him.”
Antetokounmpo is also a finalist for Defensive Player of the Year, while Utah’s Rudy Gobert is bidding to win that trophy for a third consecutive season.
The league announced the top three vote-getters in six individual categories. Voting has already taken place by a global panel of sportswriters and broadcasters.
The NBA has not set specific dates when the winners will be announced.
None of the games taking place at the NBA’s restart at Walt Disney World factored into the voting, because ballots were due before games began again July 30.
The league took the step of saying games played before the league suspended the season on March 11 because of the coronavirus pandemic could factor into award consideration, out of fairness to the eight teams that were not invited to the restart.
The other finalists for NBA honors:
Rookie of the Year — Ja Morant, Memphis; Kendrick Nunn, Miami; Zion Williamson, New Orleans.
Most Improved Player — Bam Adebayo, Miami; Luka Doncic, Dallas; Brandon Ingram, New Orleans.
Sixth Man — Montrezl Harrell, Los Angeles Clippers; Dennis Schroder, Oklahoma City; Lou Williams, Los Angeles Clippers.
Defensive Player of the Year — Antetokounmpo; Anthony Davis, Los Angeles Lakers; Rudy Gobert, Utah.
Coach of the Year — Mike Budenholzer, Milwaukee; Billy Donovan, Oklahoma City; Nick Nurse, Toronto.


GASOL VS. GRIZZLIES
Marc Gasol spent parts of 11 seasons in Memphis, going to three All-Star Games with a Grizzlies jersey on his back, earning two All-NBA selections there and a Defensive Player of the Year award as well.
And now, he’ll play against his former team for the first time.
The Grizzlies face Gasol and the Toronto Raptors on Sunday. It’ll be the first game between the clubs since Gasol was traded to Toronto in February 2019 — a move that helped the Raptors win last season’s NBA championship.
Gasol said facing Memphis would be emotional.
“I got there when I was 16 years old. It was my first time out of Spain,” said Gasol, who still owns his Memphis home. “I started high school there as a teenager and left as a father of two kids. ... My ties to the city and my roots go pretty deep and my love for the people there, what they mean and the franchise, it’s forever.”
Gasol helped Memphis make the playoffs in seven consecutive seasons including the 2013 run to the Western Conference finals. He is the Grizzlies’ all-time leader for minutes played, field goals made, free throws made and attempted, rebounds, blocks and triple-doubles and is second in points — 49 behind Mike Conley.
The Raptors were supposed to have played back-to-back games against Memphis this season, going there March 28 and then playing host to the Grizzlies March 30. Those games, of course, were called off because of the season suspension caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
“Obviously it’s a little bittersweet that we couldn’t play in the city of Memphis, to get that love and feel that Iove from the fans,” Raptors guard Fred VanVleet said. “But I’m sure he’ll be happy to see some familiar faces and a lot of the people that he spent a lot of time with over the years.”


WORKING WIZARDS
On Friday, the Washington Wizards were eliminated from playoff contention.
On Saturday, they practiced.
The Wizards knew they were playoff longshots even before coming to the NBA’s restart at Disney, especially since Bradley Beal didn’t make the trip because of injury and Davis Bertans opted not to play because of health concerns.
But these eight games — Washington is 0-5 at Disney with three games left — were considered learning opportunities for the team’s young players, and a chance to get some high-level work in before the offseason starts. And just because the playoff chances are now gone doesn’t mean Wizards coach Scott Brooks is changing his thinking on that front.
“It’s about getting better,” Brooks said. “You know, I love our group. We want to keep improving. And the record, I’m not happy with it but I’m happy with our effort after every game that we’ve been in.”
Brooks has told his team repeatedly at Disney that the losses go on his record, not theirs.
“You can’t waste the days, you have to keep working on each day and keep improving and it’s hard,” Brooks said. “It’s hard to go through, you know, five losses in a row. But in order to get where we need to get to, you’re going to have to deal with it. You’re going to have to be able to handle it. You’re going to have to be able to get better from it, and it also has to hurt, going through it. And that’s fine.”


BUCKS CLINCH
The road to the NBA championship will go through Milwaukee’s white uniforms.
The Bucks have secured the top overall seed in the NBA playoffs for the second consecutive year, the clincher coming when the Los Angeles Lakers lost to Indiana on Saturday.
Ordinarily, that would come with the right to host Game 1 and Game 7 of every series. This year, it just means that the Bucks will be called the home team in those games in each postseason round that they reach.