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
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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.


Di Maria scores 2 as PSG beats Madrid in Champions League

Updated 19 September 2019

Di Maria scores 2 as PSG beats Madrid in Champions League

  • Di Maria doubled the advantage when he struck again in the 33rd minute, found this time by Gueye

PARIS: No Neymar. No Kylian Mbappe. No problem.
With two first-half goals from Angel Di Maria and a rare late strike from right-back Thomas Meunier, a new-look Paris Saint-Germain missing its headline stars brushed aside a flat Real Madrid 3-0 in the Champions League to go top of Group A in an impressive start to its European campaign on Wednesday. 
Di Maria, a Champions League winner with Madrid in 2014, was rampant against his former club, using phenomenal speed and clever placing to torment a Madrid defense sorely missing the suspended Sergio Ramos.
The Argentine's first goal poked past Thibaut Courtois' near post in the 14th minute was his 25th in 100 European matches.
Some of PSG's new recruits were instrumental in the victory. Idrissa Gueye, bought from Everton, bossed the midfield.
Di Maria's opener originated with Mauro Icardi, a late loan-signing from Inter Milan. He linked up smartly with left-back Juan Bernat, who then found Di Maria in space in the box with a swift cut-back pass.
Di Maria doubled the advantage when he struck again in the 33rd minute, found this time by Gueye.
Di Maria caressed a pinpoint shot with his left foot from long range past the outstretched Courtois and celebrated enthusiastically as Paris fans lit red flares.
Gareth Bale thought he'd got a goal back moments later with a sweet volley over former Madrid teammate Keylor Navas, bought by Paris to provide added assurance behind the suffocating PSG defense that snuffed out Madrid at the Parc des Princes.
But referee Anthony Taylor spotted on video replay that the Wales winger had touched the ball with his right arm as he juggled it from his left foot to his right one before shooting.
Meunier's goal in second-half injury time was only his sixth in 48 European matches. Bernat's pass set up the strike. Up in the posh seats, the suspended Neymar and Mbappe, recovering from injury, chuckled together at the sight of the full-backs combining to score. Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane scowled.
Zidane lamented the lack of urgency from his side that had zero shots on target other than Bale's disallowed goal and another disallowed for offside in the second half.
"It was a weird sensation," he said, speaking through a translator. "We hardly ever got into the match."
Zidane refrained from singling out any player, saying "it's everybody's fault when we lose."
But James Rodriguez, back from Bayern Munich, was particularly ineffective. And Eden Hazard, bought from Chelsea, looked ring-rusty as he makes his way back from injury. A trademark dribble in the PSG area in the second half ended with Hazard tripping over himself and landing on his backside.
Zidane replaced them both with 20 minutes to play.
PSG coach Thomas Tuchel, on the other hand, had no problem singling out Gueye for praise. He clicked with Marco Verratti and the deeper-lying Marquinhos in the PSG midfield that purred as if they'd played together for years.
"He's a machine. He never stops, never stops running," Tuchel said. "Against a team like Madrid, that is super-important."
Tuchel suggested the absence of Neymar, Mbappe and PSG's record scorer Edinson Cavani, also recovering from injury, may have been a help rather than a hindrance.
Without them, outside observers figured PSG was unlikely to win, and that eased pressure on Tuchel's other players, the coach said.
When Neymar has served out the rest of his two-match ban, and Mbappe and Cavani are fit again, expectations will quickly rise in the wake of this humbling of Madrid that showed the strength in depth of PSG's expensively assembled team.
But PSG knows from bitter experience how hard the road will become in the Champions League, having failed to get beyond the quarterfinals since the club's wealthy Qatari owners took over in 2011.
Tuchel was eager to tamp down any buzz.
"If someone asks me if we are going to win the Champions League, I'm leaving," he said.