Sao Paulo, Jun 22 (efe-epa).- Brazil responded emphatically to adversity here Saturday, hammering Peru 5-0 to secure a berth in the Copa America quarterfinals as the top team in Group A.
After coming under heavy criticism for lackluster showings in their first two round-robin contests against Bolivia and Venezuela, the host country won back the love of their fans with an electric performance at Arena Corinthians in Sao Paulo.
Head coach Tite had received the lion’s share of the blame after Brazil’s 3-0 victory over Bolivia on June 14, when the Selecao were held goal-less in the first half, and their scoreless draw four days later against Venezuela.
He responded by inserting Everton and Gabriel Jesus in attack as replacements for David Neres and Richarlison and the move paid dividends in spades.
Although Brazil got off to a shaky start and defender Casemiro picked up a yellow card in the 10th minute for kicking an opposing player (an infraction that will cause him to miss his team’s quarterfinal match), the hosts did not take long to assert their superiority.
The first goal came in the 12th minute after a corner kick was sent in by Philippe Coutinho. Thiago Silva headed the ball on toward the far post, where after a scramble at the goal mouth Casemiro finally headed it over the line.
The Selecao then doubled their lead seven minutes later courtesy of a huge blunder by Peruvian goalie Pedro Gallese, who in an attempt to clear the ball out of his area smacked the ball off the leg of Roberto Firmino.
The ball went high in the air and then struck the crossbar before making its way to Firmino, who dribbled and around Gallese and scored into an empty net.
Everton then started taking over the game in the latter part of the second half and his attacking brilliance translated into a goal in the 32nd minute, when he eluded a defender and fired a skidding shot just inside the near upright.
Peru tried to pull one back late in the second half, but net minder Alisson was up to the task to snuff out an opportunity by Miguel Trauco.
With the fans back on their side, the Brazilian players continued to showcase their flair and talent in the second half.
Just eight minutes after the end of the intermission, Dani Alves scored into the roof of the goal off a pass from Firmino to make the score 4-0.
Although the action died down for a half-hour after the fourth goal, Willian finished off the rout in the 90th minute with a powerful blast from just outside the area that entered the goal inside the far post.
With the win, Brazil joined Venezuela (the second-place team in Group A after defeating Bolivia 3-1 on Saturday) and Group B winner Colombia in the quarterfinals of the Copa America, South America’s soccer championship.
Peru can still qualify for the quarterfinals since two of the three third-place teams book a spot in the tournament’s knockout stage, although their -3 goal differential could work against them.
0. Peru: Pedro Gallese; Luis Advincula, Miguel Araujo, Luis Abram and Miguel Trauco; Jefferson Farfan, Renato Tapia, Yoshimar Yotun (m.45 Edison Flores), Christian Cueva (m.67 Josepmir Ballon), Andy Polo; and Paolo Guerrero (m.55 Christofer Gonzales).
Head coach: Ricardo Gareca
5. Brazil: Alisson; Dani Alves, Marquinhos, Thiago Silva, Filipe Luis (m.57 Alex Sandro); Casemiro (m.70 Allan), Arthur, Philippe Coutinho (m.77 Willian); Everton, Gabriel Jesus and Roberto Firmino.
Head coach: Tite
Goals: 0-1, m.12: Casemiro; 0-2, m.19; Roberto Firmino; 0-3, m.32; Everton; 0-4, m.53; Dani Alves; 0-5, m.90 Willian.
Referee: Argentina’s Fernando Rapallini, who showed a yellow card to Brazil’s Casemiro and Thiago Silva and Peru’s Yotun and Advincula.
The match was the teams’ third and final Group A match of this year’s Copa America and was played at Arena Corinthians in Sao Paulo in front of 42,317 spectators. FIFA President Gianni Infantino was in attendance.