Copa América: Punchless Brazil held to goalless draw by Costa Rica

Brazil missed a string of chances and were left to rue a lack of quality in the final third after being held 0-0 by Costa Rica in Monday’s Copa América Group D opener in Los Angeles.

Brazil, who entered the tournament in recent months after a string of poor results, dominated possession but lacked precision in front of goal with just three of their 19 shots on target.

They were frustrated by a determined five-man Costa Rican defense, which wanted to contain their opponents and deny them space. The strategy paid off, even if Gustavo Alfaro’s team was lucky at times.

Raphinha had an excellent opportunity to score early on after latching on to a long ball over the top from Rodrygo, but Costa Rica keeper Patrick Sequeira quickly came off his line to extinguish the danger.

Brazil thought they had made the breakthrough in the 30th minute when Rodrygo tapped a free-kick into the path of Marquinhos, who poked the ball home at the far post, but the goal was disallowed for offside after a lengthy VAR stoppage. The one-way traffic continued after the break and Lucas Paqueta rattled the woodwork with a long-range effort in the 63rd minute before a vicious Guilherme Arana strike was kept out by a fine save from Sequeira.

Coach Dorival Júnior brought on youngsters Endrick and Savio in the 70th minute as Brazil looked desperate for a winner, but Paqueta fired twice wide in the final 10 minutes as the nine-time champions failed to break the deadlock.

Brazil’s all-time top scorer Neymar, who is sidelined with an anterior cruciate ligament injury, cut a dejected figure as he watched from the stands.

Colombia lead Group D after their 2-1 win over Paraguay earlier on Monday. James Rodriguez evoked memories of his 2014 World Cup breakthrough on Monday after the Colombian midfielder scored both goals in his team’s victory.

The 32-year-old won the Golden Boot in Brazil ten years ago. His volley effort against Uruguay in the round of 16 is still regarded as one of the best ever goals in the World Cup, but his career has been on a downward spiral in recent years. a few years.

After playing for Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, Rodriguez joined Brazilian side Sao Paulo last year, becoming his fourth club in as many seasons. However, he was the difference on Monday and was named man of the match.

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“I’m very happy, it’s important to start well today against a difficult opponent like Paraguay,” Rodriguez told Caracol Gol. “We could have done better in the second half, but if the team wins, you correct things better, then it is much easier.”

More than 60,000 Colombian fans at Houston’s NRG Stadium gave Rodriguez a standing ovation as he left the field in stoppage time after a performance that gave them hopes of lifting the continental trophy again after a 23-year wait.

“It’s wonderful, they support us a lot. We still have a long way to go in this Copa América and we are taking it game by game,” Rodriguez added.