Brazil beat Peru to clinch 1st Copa America title since 2007

Members of the Brazilian national team celebrate with the trophy after winning the Copa America final against Peru. (AFP)
Updated 09 July 2019

Brazil beat Peru to clinch 1st Copa America title since 2007

  • Coach Tite’s team regain supporters’ confidence following their 2018 World Cup quarterfinal exit

RIO DE JANEIRO: Brazil did not need Neymar to win another Copa America title at home.

With their injured star watching from the stands at a packed Maracanã Stadium on Sunday, Brazil beat Peru 3-1 to win their first South American title since 2007.

It was Neymar’s replacement, Everton, who led the team to victory, scoring a goal and setting up another to give Brazil their ninth Copa America trophy, and fifth at home.

Gabriel Jesus and Richarlison also scored for Brazil, who have won the title every time they hosted the tournament.

“I gave everything I had today,” said Everton, who was voted player of the final and also finished as one of the tournament’s top scorers with three goals.

“Who would have thought that Everton would be playing in the final and would be named the man of the match,” Brazil coach Tite said.

Neymar, who was ruled out before the tournament because of an ankle injury, sat with his son close to Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro among the crowd of nearly 70,000 at the Maracanã.

“Neymar is extraordinary, he’s a top 3 player,” Tite said. But “with teamwork we stayed strong.”

Brazilian fans had some reason to worry after Gabriel Jesus was sent off in the 70th minute because of a second yellow card, but Peru could not pull off one last upset after eliminating Uruguay in the quarterfinals and two-time defending champion Chile in the semifinals.

“Brazil deserved the victory,” Peru coach Ricardo Gareca said. “We played better than we did in the previous match. We have improved as a team. We still have to improve more, but we are on the right track.”

Peru, who had been routed 5-0 by Brazil in the group stage and barely avoided early elimination, were trying to win their first Copa America trophy since 1975 and just their second overall. They had not returned to the final since ‘75.

The victory helped Brazil to regain the confidence of some supporters following their quarterfinal exit at the 2018 World Cup in Russia. It will also ease some of the pressure on coach Tite, who had been criticized for his selections and the team’s lackluster performances.

Brazil had not made it past the quarterfinals of the Copa America since beating Argentina 3-0 in the 2007 final in Venezuela. They did not even get past the group stage in 2016.

The last time Brazil won the Copa America at home had been in 1989, when Romario scored the winner against Uruguay at the Maracana.

Brazil’s only other trophy since 2007 came in the 2013 Confederations Cup, also at home.

Brazil arrived as a heavy favorite but it was an even match from the start, with the hosts not being able to press too much despite being urged on by most of the crowd at the Maracana.

Everton opened the scoring in the 15th from close range after a well-placed cross by Gabriel Jesus, who made a surging run down the right flank.

“I’m happy with the goal and with the penalty in the end,” Everton said. “I have to thank my teammates for helping me finish as a top scorer.”

The 23-year-old Everton was elevated to the starting lineup after Neymar was ruled out and his initial substitute, David Neres, struggled in the first couple of matches.

Veteran striker Paolo Guerrero equalized with a 44th-minute penalty after a handball by Brazil defender Thiago Silva. The goal allowed Guerrero to become the Copa America’s all-time leading scorer among active players with 14 goals.

It was the only goal conceded by Brazil in six games.

Gabriel Jesus put the hosts ahead again in the third minute of first-half stoppage time with a low shot after an assist from midfielder Arthur.

Peru tried to take control after Gabriel Jesus was sent off for a hard foul on an opponent, but the visitors were not able to create many significant chances.

Brazil sealed victory when Richarlison, who had missed a few matches because of the mumps, converted a penalty kick in the 90th after Everton was fouled.

Both penalty kicks had to be delayed for video reviews. Brazil’s veteran right back Dani Alves was voted the player of the tournament.


Saudi showjumpers ride for places in Tokyo Olympics team

Updated 16 December 2019

Saudi showjumpers ride for places in Tokyo Olympics team

  • International exposure key to Saudi riders’ success: Equestrian federation chief
  •  Visitors enjoyed a fun and exciting atmosphere as riders gave their best performances on the field

RIYADH: Saudi showjumpers at this month’s Diriyah Equestrian Festival aren’t just riding to win — they are battling for places at next year’s Tokyo Olympics, the country’s equestrian chief said on Sunday.

“Saudi riders’ participation in international championships is very important,” said Prince Abdullah bin Fahd bin Abdullah, president of the Saudi Equestrian Federation.

“Coming in contact with international riders will provide them with what they need to achieve their ambitions, which we all know are very big. That is why Saudi riders always have remarkable presence on the international level — hard competitors to beat, like the young rider Waleed Al-Ghamdi, who came second in the first stage of the competition.

“We are waiting for the results of this championship to draft the program for the Tokyo Olympics. We have a good chance at winning but, in this sport one can never be sure until the end of the stage. We will always be sure of the self-confidence our riders have, which will be felt as they represent the Kingdom in any competition,” he added.

Prince Abdullah expressed his happiness at the start of the first stage of the International Show Jumping Championship as part of the Diriyah Equestrian Festival

“The success is due to God, the support the sport has from the wise leadership of Prince Abdul Aziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, chairman of the General Sports Authority (GSA)," he said

The festival — which concludes next weekend, Dec. 19-21 — is taking place at Al-Duhami Farm, the equestrian arena built by Saudi Olympic legend Ramzy Al-Duhami and his wife Sara Baban.

In addition to showjumping, the attractions include art and photography exhibitions, cultural activities and a range of cafes and restaurants.

Visitors enjoyed a fun and exciting atmosphere as riders gave their best performances on the field, showcasing their skills and talents.

Diriyah has always been a symbol of authenticity and culture, while entertainment came with its international sports activities characterized by their sophistication, strength and diversity.

Mohammed Al-Mudayfar, owner of the artistic incubator “Resin Art” taking part in the activities, said: “The exhibition aims at highlighting the Kingdom’s identity in line with the festival’s. By participating, I seek to revive the Kingdom’s culture and introduce it to the visitors.

'Resin Art' exhibition is part of the activities lined up during the two-week Diriyah Equestrian Festival. (Photo/Supplied)

“The exhibition includes 60 Saudi artworks. They received huge support so they can showcase them in a suitable manner, in line with this year’s fun and exciting activities,” he added, noting: “Featured handicrafts, paintings and sculptures are all up for sale.  

“We provide the necessary space and materials for any artist that wishes to showcase his work. Supporting young Saudis and talented ones in particular is a national duty that society should sense its importance especially when it is related to our heritage and traditions.”

The activities area had a part dedicated to kids that has educational and entertainment activities such as painting horse heads made of cork.

Another exhibition called “Objectives” managed by 24-year-old Lama Al-Thubaiti offered visitors a variety of jewelry and accessories that could be modified according to their requests. Al-Thubaiti works as a doctor for people with hearing disabilities and has been working to develop her brand for five years now.

“We are very happy with the visitors’ reaction and our presence here is remarkable as we get ready to open our headquarters soon,” she said.  

The activities area also featured a wide range of restaurants, Saudi and international cafes, a photography corner and cultural facilities such as Arabian and historic horse exhibition, engraving, henna and local artists.

Diriyah Equestrian Festival is taking place for the second year in a row to bring the international event to the Kingdom, reflect the traditional values of equestrianism according to European standards. The event will run for two weeks, providing participants with the chance to qualify to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and the World Championship.