Ralph Hannah –
Brazil v Peru — As a society, Brazil, famously dubbed the country of tomorrow, has become impatient for “tomorrow” to finally arrive. The last several years have seen constant upheaval in politics, yet there has been a strange stability in the Selecao.
Brazil v Peru Goals: 1-0 (Everton, 15′) 1-1 (Paulo Guerrero, 44′ PEN) 2-1 (Gabriel Jesus, 45+3), 3-1 (Richarlison, 90′)
The CBF would usually sack a coach if they crash out of the World Cup in the quarter finals, but they stuck with Tite and have been rewarded with a first trophy in 12 years. The patience transcends from the boardroom to the pitch as the former Corinthians coach has showed his side not to panic with the scores even and the pressure of home advantage.
The steely mentality instilled by Tite, which was characteristic of his Corinthians side, was evidenced by the team’s reaction to losing Gabriel Jesús on 70 minutes to a dubious second yellow card. Rather than lose their heads, they killed the game off with ruthless efficiency.
Gabriel Jesús was left crying in the tunnel and facing a hefty ban for his outburst as he left the pitch – a cruel end to his Copa America Final which he had excelled in. It was the Man City forward that made the first goal, great footwork on the right to outwit Miguel Trauco and his deep cross found Everton at the back post. The 22-year-old had been by far the brightest player in the Maracaná in the first half and capped off a great opening period with a goal in stoppage time as he took advantage of Zambrano’s slip to slot home. It was his 18thgoal in his 35thappearance.
Just before that Peru had got themselves back into the game via a Paolo Guerrero penalty, the first player to score past Alisson this tournament (in fact the first person to score past him since Salomon Rondón for Newcastle back in May). The penalty was given after Cueva’s cross was handled by Thiago Silva as he slid in to try and block the ball, a decision ratified by VAR. Guerrero’s goal came after a good spell by the blanquiroja who had reacted well after going behind and had begun to show more movement up front.
Unlike the semifinal against Chile, they couldn’t find an easy way through the Brazilian defence who were more mobile but also always kept deep with Casemiro dropping back without the ball. In the early stages of the second half it seemed that the more offensive approach from the visitors would leave too much space behind, Coutinho earned Tapia a yellow card after some quick feet and on 54 minutes surged through the open area in front of the defence to set up Roberto Firmino who miscued.
Then came the sending off, a very harsh decision with Jesús adjudged to have used his arm illegally when challenging for a high ball but replays suggest there was very little in it. But Peru couldn’t make the extra man count, Tite brought on Richarlison for Firmino to add some extra pace should a counter arise and then Militao for Coutinho to bolster the backline.
As the minutes ticked away, it was the visiting side that became more erratic committing needless fouls and not keeping the ball well enough. Those fouls proved costly as Carlos Zambrano made a brainless challenge on Everton who had scampered into the box to chase his uncontrolled pass. As goalkeeper Gallese was receiving the ball comfortably in his arms, Zambrano had shoulder-charged the Gremio winger, and Tobar pointed to the spot. Richarlison converted as the Marcaná exhaled a mix of relief and emotion, the expectations had finally been met after more than a decade.
The victory means Brazil win their 9thCopa America and keep up their perfect record of always winning this tournament when hosting it. The fact they have won without Neymar is even more credit to the coach Tite who had to remix the formula in the early games and eventually found it with the Everton, Firmino and Gabriel Jesús dynamic.
There will also be plenty of positivity looking ahead to World Cup Qualifiers which begin in March, other than captain Dani Alves and centreback Thiago Silva the starting lineup were all under 30 so the patient wait for a first trophy could see more arrive in the near future.
Brazil v Peru – Formations
Alisson – Alves, Thiago Silva, Marquinhos, Alex Sandro – Casemiro, Arthur – Everton, Coutinho, Jesus – Firmino
Head Coach: Tite
Gallese – Advíncula; Zambrano, Abram, Trauco – Tapia, Yotún, Cueva – Carrillo, Flores, Guerrero
Head Coach: Ricardo Gareca
Ralph Hannah is Londoner, who has lived in Luque and is now located in Miami, with a keen interest in Paraguayan football history and statistics. A frequent traveller throughout Latin America he attends games throughout the region and has written for a variety of publications and set up the first English-language blog on Paraguayan Football. When not in the Defensores del Chaco he’s looking after his two daughters. Follow Ralph on Twitter @paraguayralph.