Match Report and Analysis of Brazil’s 3-1 victory over Peru in the 2019 Copa America final
Brazil finally ended their 12-year drought for silverware in the Copa America as the Selecao beat Peru 3-1 at the Maracana Stadium in the final of the 2019 Copa America on Sunday to get their hands on the trophy for the first time since 2007.
First-half goals from Everton Soares and Gabriel Jesus followed by Richarlison’s late penalty meant that Tite’s side bagged their ninth Copa America title.
Having suffered arguably one of the worst ever humiliations in the 2014 FIFA World Cup semi-final against Germany on home soil, Brazil were under pressure to deliver the goods in front of a raucous home crowd at the Maracana and completely demolished Peru in the final.
In doing so, the Selecao lifted the Holy Grail for the fifth time on home soil, thus continuing their remarkable feat of winning the Copa America at home on each occasion.
The build-up to the game
Brazil had failed to live up to the expectations last time around when the Copa America was held in the United States (in 2016), with the 5-time world champions crashing out of the tournament in the group stages.
However, their wait for a first major trophy since the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup finally came to an end, as Tite’s side romped home to a rather comfortable 3-1 victory over Peru, sparking wild celebrations amongst one and all present at the Maracana.
The Selecao were always going to be the outright favourites heading into the final against Peru, especially after the 2-0 humbling of arch-rivals Argentina in the semi-finals.
Peru were whitewashed 5-0 by Brazil in the group stages but many would have anticipated an upset to be on the cards in the final given that Peru had fought back brilliantly from that early setback to make it all the way.
Ricardo Gareca’s side were high on confidence following their scintillating 3-0 triumph over two-time defending champions Chile in the semi-finals, although they probably knew that it would take a herculean effort to find a way past Brazil in the finals.
The fact that Brazil hadn’t conceded a goal in the entire tournament prior to the final made the task took ever more daunting.
As it happened
Both Tite and Gareca fielded an unchanged line-up from the semi-final encounters and Brazil eventually caught the game by the scruff of the neck following an energetic start from Peru.
And didn’t take long for them to find the breakthrough, as Gabriel Jesus’ inch-perfect cut-back was turned in by a completely unmarked Everton Soares, who made an intelligent run to the far post and found the net with a crisp finish.
Brazil assumed control of the proceedings in the midfield, courtesy of their double pivot of Arthur and Casemiro in the middle of the park, as Peru struggled to get into the game, hardly creating any clear-cut scoring chances.
The home side’s innate ability to carve out chances out of nothing could have produced another goal soon but Philippe Countinho’s close-range effort was knocked just wide following a clever cut-back from Everton Soares down the left.
Peru were complete strangers in the final third but in a twist of fate, Gareca’s side found the much-needed breakthrough when Thiago Silva was adjudged to have handled the ball inside his own penalty area.
The referee initially pointed to the penalty spot and after a brief look at the VAR replays, the decision stood. Paulo Guerrero stepped up confidently and coolly sent Alisson the wrong way from 12 yards to restore parity in the 44th minute.
The Copa America is known for producing plenty of thrills and spills, and it was no different this time either. The goal only proved to be a temporary reprieve for Peru, as Gabriel Jesus’ strike with essentially the last kick of the first-half put the Selecao in the driver’s seat for the second time in the game.
Arthur won the ball back in the midfield with a neat challenge and showed the presence of mind to thread an early pass to the Man City forward, who placed it beautifully into the corner of the net to raise the noise levels at the Maracana.
Brazil’s second goal handed them a clear advantage going into the interval and Jesus was the name on the fans’ lips due to his involvement in both the goals.
Things hardly got any better for Peru following the restart as Brazil went all out in their pursuit of a third and decisive goal, with Coutinho coming close in the 51st minute. Peru managed to create a few more chances but their decision-making in the final third was next to horrible.
Roberto Firmino could have got his name on the scoresheet, only for the Liverpool star to fire his header wide following a wonderful piece of link-up play from Everton and Sandro down the left-hand side.
Gabriel Jesus’ sending off
Peru somehow managed to keep the game alive and they were handed a massive boost with twenty minutes left to play, as Jesus turned from a hero to a villain with his sudden rush of blood.
The former Palmeiras man’s clumsy challenge on Zambrano was deemed worthy of a second yellow card, much to the anger and frustration of the home crowd at the Maracana, and Peru had the numerical advantage.
Fluminense left-back Miguel Trauco forced Alisson into a save with a powerful effort from 20 yards and Brazil were pinned back inside their own half, courtesy of some energetic attacking play from Peru.
Tite’s masterstroke and Gareca’s reply
That, however, didn’t last long and Tite’s double substitution to bring on Eder Militao and Richarlison in place of Firmino and Coutinho shut the doors in the visitor’s surge for an equalizer.
A third centre-back provided additional cover at the back to the Selecao, while Richarlison proved to be a nightmare with his pace and power up front.
Gareca went all out to exploit Brazil’s numerical disadvantage and replaced both holding midfielders, Yoshimar Yotun and Renato Tapia, with attackers Raul Ruidiaz and Christofer Gonzales, with a view to countering the home side’s defensive approach.
He further brought on the influential Andy Polo as an impact substitution in place of a tiring Andre Carrillo but those changes hardly made any difference as Brazil looked quite comfortable inside their own half.
Controversial penalty decision
With things drawing nearer to the final whistle, it became more and more apparent that Peru didn’t have enough in their locker to stop Brazil from bagging their ninth Copa title, and their hopes of staging a sensational comeback were dashed when Zambrao’s challenge on Everton inside the box was deemed worthy of a penalty.
Everton lost control of the ball with a heavy touch following a delicious run and while the defender’s challenge looked more like a strong shoulder-to-shoulder contact, Brazil were awarded a penalty.
Richarlison wasn’t going to let the golden opportunity go begging and the Everton man applied the finishing touches from the spot to send the fans into a mood of delirium and ecstasy.
Brazil finally conceded a goal in the 2019 Copa America but Selecao’s new generation of stars did enough to claim their fifth title on home soil, nevertheless.
Penalties, red cards, missed chances and some fine individual performances – the final saw it all but in the end, Brazil were the undisputed winners.