Neymar shines as Brazil kick off Copa campaign with win over Venezuela - GulfToday

Neymar shines as Brazil kick off Copa campaign with win over Venezuela


Brazil’s Neymar scores his side’s second goal against Venezuela on a penalty kick during their Copa America match in Brasilia on Sunday. Agence France-Presse

Star forward Neymar netted a penalty and created a second as hosts Brazil eased to a 3-0 victory over a coronavirus-depleted Venezuela on Sunday in the opening match of the 2021 Copa America.

Centre-back Marquinhos opened the scored midway through the first half and Gabriel Barbosa sealed the Group B win a minute from time.

Played in front of an empty Mane Garrincha stadium in Brasilia due to Covid-19 restrictions, Brazil made light of the continent’s minnows, who arrived with a makeshift side missing eight players ruled out after testing positive for coronavirus the day before. Following a minute’s silence to remember Covid victims, Richarlison was denied from close range by Venezuela’s goalkeeper Joel Graterol early on before the forward flicked a header wide form a corner. Centre-back Eder Militao was also off target with a header while Graterol did well to hold a Danilo volley from distance.

Brazil took the lead on 23 minutes when Richarlison flicked on a Neymar corner that deflected into Marquinhos’s path inside the six-yard box, allowing the centre-back to bundle home.

Neymar somehow failed to turn home a cross-cum-shot from Gabriel Jesus from three yards out but on 64 minutes he doubled the lead from the penalty spot.

Yohan Cumana clumsily brought down Danilo in the box and Neymar sent Graterol the wrong way from 12 yards. Neymar then created the third, rounding Graterol before crossing for Gabriel Barbosa to chest home from barely a yard out.

Colombia pip Ecuador: Edwin Cardona scored the only goal of the game as Colombia held on under second half pressure to begin their Group B campaign with a 1-0 win over Ecuador -- who thrashed them 6-1 the last time the sides met in a World Cup qualifier in November.

Colombia’s goal was a thing of beauty with Cardona taking a short free-kick to Juan Cuadrado, who chipped the ball into the box for Miguel Borja to head down into the path of Cardona to volley home.

Agence France-Presse

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