Brazil have continued their dominance of the Copa America, lifting their ninth trophy with a 3-1 final win against Peru at the Maracana in Rio de Janeiro.

Brazil came into the final unchanged from the semi-final triumph over Argentina and having not conceded a goal all tournament. The Selecao had also already beaten Peru to the tune of 5-0 in the group stage.

Tite’s men topped Group A from where they went on to edge past Paraguay in a tense penalty shootout before a heated victory against rivals Argentina booked their place in the final.

Peru arrived as a relative dark horse in the tournament and had captivated the entire continent by making the final, continuing on from a strong showing in the 2018 World Cup.

Los Incas made it through to the knockout stages via the ‘lucky loser’ spot, but there was nothing lucky about their journey from there on as they downed pre-tournament favourite Uruguay on penalties in the quarter-finals before thumping  Chile 3-0 in the last four.

The match itself began very slowly, but after 15 minutes Gabriel Jesus lit the contest up with some tremendous footwork on the right-wing which saw his eventual cross prodded home by Everton at the back post.

It took 20 minutes for the next look at goal for either side and again it fell to the Selecao as some slick passing released Alex Sandro down the left hand side, but Roberto Firmino failed to keep his header down from the resulting cross.

Moments later Peru had a chance to level from the penalty spot after Thiago Silva inadvertently handled the ball in the box in the action of slide tackling. The Peru captain Paolo Guerrero sent Alisson the wrong way to be the first player to breach the Brazil net in this tournament.

The Selecao regained the lead before half-time though when Firmino won the ball back in midfield allowing Arthur to slip Jesus through in the box, and the Manchester City man finished coolly into the bottom left corner.

It would all turn sour for Jesus though as he was sent off 20 minutes from time for a second harsh yellow card as he challenged Carlos Zambrano for a header. just giving Peru an extra push as they sought to send the final to penalties.

That sending off saw the introduction of Richarlison, replacing Firmino to sure up the numbers in midfield as Brazil went without an out-and-out no.9 for the remaining 15 minutes.

Richarlison would ultimately put the game to bed just before stoppage time, burying a penalty into the bottom left corner after Zambrano had felled Everton inside the area.

The hosts locked up shop in the final moments to ensure that they got their hands on the trophy again, having now won the Copa America on each of the five occasions when they have hosted the tournament.

It was all about the Brazilians at the final whistle as Everton was awarded man of the match and golden boot honours, Alisson received the golden glove and Dani Alves the tournament’s most valuable player, as well as the team claiming the fair play award.

With Neymar missing for the tournament, Everton stepped up on the left-hand side and the gargantuan efforts of the defence ensured that Brazil would be celebrating yet again, with all to play for once more next year in Argentina and Colombia.



Nick Hughes