Monday, June 14, 2021

Brazil kick off under-fire Copa America with win over Venezuela

 Brazil has kicked off Copa America 2021 with a 3-0 win over COVID-hit Venezuela as the much-opposed tournament kicked off in Brasilia on Sunday.


Marquinhos, Neymar and Gabriel Barbosa scored in the opening game at Mane Garrincha stadium on Sunday, less than a day after several Venezuelan players tested positive for COVID-19.

South American football governing body, CONMEBOL, chose Brazil as host two weeks ago despite its alarming COVID-19 figures, after Argentina and Colombia were dropped as co-hosts.

Despite his opposition to staging the tournament in his home country, Brazil captain Casemiro said the defending champions intended to retain their trophy.

“It could be a friendly, Copa America or World Cup qualifiers, we play it to win,” said Casemiro after his side’s win.

Venezuela had the idea of defending, they wanted a draw. But we were focused and we were aggressive in the last third of the pitch.”

Venezuela summoned 15 new players at short notice after eight squad members tested positive for COVID-19 on Saturday, and the disruption showed on the field.

Brazil opened the scoring in the 23rd minute after a corner kick ended with Marquinhos striking from close range.

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