RIO DE JANEIRO – The host nation ended their 12-year wait for the Copa América trophy with a 3-1 victory over Peru on Sunday evening. The result was the culmination of a thrilling tournament that lasted for just under a month.
The tournament commenced with Brazil gaining a comfortable 3-0 victory over Bolivia and from there on the route to the final and the trophy was relatively trouble free. It seemed at times that Brazil never reached top gear but apparently they didn’t need to. An early 5-0 demolition of Peru in the group stages, however, presented an ominous forecast for the final.
Brazil scrapped past Paraguay after penalties in the quarter finals and produced a somewhat controversial 2-0 victory over Argentina in the semi-final. Peru, who qualified second in Group A behind Brazil had to see off Uruguay on penalties in a nervy quarter final. They produced an excellent display to beat Chile 3-0 in the semis and looked ready to take on Brazil in the final.
The teams looked evenly matched early on. Peru had plenty of the ball in the first 10 minutes but it was Brazil who took the lead at the 15-minute mark. A perfectly weighted cross by Gabriel Jesus from the right-hand side lofted over all those in the box to find Everton rushing in from edge of the penalty area who neatly rifled a first-time finish into the goal. From then on Brazil took control and Coutinho should have made it 2-0 but narrowly missed the goal from close range.
Against the run of play, and just prior to the half-time break, Cueva played a cross into the Brazilian penalty area which struck the arm of a falling Thiago Silva. Whilst Silva knew nothing of the incoming cross, his arm clearly blocked the passage of the ball and so the referee quite rightly issued a penalty. It was Paolo Guerrero who sent Alisson Becker the wrong way to restore parity in the match. This was the first goal conceded by Brazil in the tournament.
Peru’s lead lasted 4 minutes. A fantastic bit of midfield play and perfectly weighted pass by Arthur opened up Peru’s defence for Jesus to restore Brazil’s lead.
The second half started emphatically with Peru creating a series of opportunities. Coutinho could have again scored but his header just missed the mark. On the 70th minute Gabriel Jesus was sent off for a second bookable offense. It would make the final 20 minutes uncomfortable for Brazil. Peru responded by bringing on Ruidaz to bolster their attack. But Brazil held on and a few minutes before the final whistle Everton was brought down in the penalty box. Richarlison made no mistake from the spot kick and the cup was Brazil’s.
John is a volcanologist, sports fan, radio broadcaster, and accomplished musician. Born and raised in Britain, he has travelled extensively for his research on volcanoes. Whilst living in London, UK, John performed in the punk bands ‘And Now We’re Even’ and ‘Filthy Militia’ recording six studio albums and two EP’S over this time. He currently lives in Santiago, Chile where he works as a university professor in rock mechanics.