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Copa America: Brazil fails to get past a draw against Costa Rica in a surprise match

Players from Brazil and Costa Rica compete against each other during the Copa America match.

Players from Brazil and Costa Rica engage in a thrilling battle during the Copa America match. | Photo credit: Getty Images

Brazil had to settle for a 0-0 draw against Costa Rica as the international elite unfortunately failed to break through in their opening match of the Copa America.

Although Brazil controlled the game, outscoring Costa Rica by 18 shots to two, the Seleção were unable to score thanks to a defense led by goalkeeper Patrick Sequeira, who saved three shots to record the team’s fourth consecutive clean sheet.

Brazil’s goal by Marquinhos was disallowed after a lengthy VAR review in the first half, but the team known for decades for its excellent attacking play never came close to scoring – and were not given a chance even after several questionable refereeing decisions – in front of a lively crowd of 67,158 at SoFi Stadium dominated by yellow-clad fans.

Colombia top Group D after beating Paraguay 2-1. Brazil have won the Copa America nine times, but the current transition team, featuring Real Madrid stars Vinícius Júnior and Rodrygo, have had a daunting start.

Brazilian coach Dorival Júnior said the result was not all that bad and pointed to his team’s great advantages in terms of possession and chances.

“I think it was a well-played game in the context,” Dorival said through an interpreter. “We passed the ball well and created good chances. We were not happy with the finishing, I agree. But overall I think we showed very positive things. Nowadays it’s going to be like that. We have to find ways and solutions to score goals. We’re always working on it, every moment.” The tie was a monumental win for Costa Rica, an undermanned CONCACAF team with the youngest roster in the tournament but a reputation for overachievement and a robust defense led by Sequeira, who plays for Ibiza in Spain’s third division.

Costa Rica head coach Gustavo Alfaro, the Argentine veteran who is in charge of his first major tournament since being hired last November, was pleased with his team’s tenacity.

“I hope (the opponents) start to look at us with respect,” Alfaro said through an interpreter. “Everyone thought we were dead before the movie started. We’re going to play all the games as if they were the final.” Los Ticos had lost nine games in a row to Brazil, but Alfaro’s young group overcame a night that could have left them shining.

“All this is a nice reward for these guys,” said Alfaro. “When Vini greeted them, it meant a lot to them. He is someone who plays at the highest level and for us who are just starting out, it was a big challenge.” Brazil controlled from the start, with 75% possession in the first half, but could not break through.

Vinícius was brought down in the penalty area by a hard hit from Haxzel Quirós in the 22nd minute, but was not booed.

In the 30th minute, Rodrygo headed a Raphinha free kick low to Marquinhos, who slammed it home at the far post. A 3 1/2 minute VAR review followed and Mexican referee César Ramos eventually agreed with the assistant referee’s decision and waved the ball off for offside by a tiny margin.

In the 39th minute, a shot by Lucas Paquetá appeared to bounce off the hand of Juan Pablo Vargas in the penalty area, but Ramos did not react.

Paquetá hit the post in the 63rd minute. Costa Rica saved when Quirós almost headed the ball into his own net but Sequeira denied him. In the 79th minute, Sequeira made a diving save when Guilherme Arana fired a shot at goal.

Costa Rica survived a few more chaotic moments from the 86th minute onwards, when Rodrygo failed to convert two scoring opportunities and no foul was called against Jeyland Mitchell in the penalty area.

In the first minute of injury time, Bruno Guimarães had a clear view of the goal, but shot just wide.

Dorival said he wanted to see more dirty movement in Brazil’s next game.

“We have to make life easier for everyone who has the ball at their feet,” said the coach.

Brazil’s national team is in a transitional phase – especially without Neymar, who has not played since tearing knee ligaments while playing for Brazil last October. Neymar spoke to the team on Sunday before watching the game at SoFi Stadium, where he received a huge cheer in the second half when his worried face appeared on the scoreboard. (AP) APA APA

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