Lucas Paquetá’s goal sends hosts Brazil past Peru into Copa América final


Many Brazil players didn’t want to take part in the Copa América tournament. After the Seleção advanced to the final with a 1-0 win over Peru on Monday, some players said they hoped to see their archrivals on Saturday at the Maracanã Stadium.

“I want Argentina in the final,” Neymar said after the match at the Nilton Santos Stadium in Rio de Janeiro. “I am cheering for them because I have many friends there. In the final, Brazil will win.”

Argentina and Colombia will play the other semi-final on Tuesday.

Neymar made the difference on the bumpy pitch of the Nilton Santos Stadium in Rio de Janeiro. The only goal of the match came in the 34th minute after he tricked defender Alexander Callens on the left edge of the box and assisted Lucas Paquetá, who just pushed the ball to the back of the net.

Peruvian goalkeeper Pedro Gallese was one of the best of the match despite his team’s elimination. He made two difficult saves from short range in the 18th minute, one by Neymar and the other by Richarlison, which could have allowed Brazil to cruise to victory sooner.

Brazil gave the impression it could score when it wanted against Peru, a team the Seleção had thrashed 4-0 in the group stage of the tournament. But the second half was very different, with Gianluca Lapadula forcing goalkeeper Ederson to make a key save in the 49th minute after a cross. Brazil still had opportunities, but continued to waste counter-attacks.

Brazil seek their 10th title in the South American championship in their ninth final in the latest 14 editions of the tournament, which was moved to Brazil after Argentina and Colombia withdrew from co-hosting it due to Covid-19 concerns.

“Today we were solid at the back, everyone helped, that’s what we need to win titles,” midfielder Casemiro said. He was one of the players who before the tournament began criticized the organization for sending the Copa to Brazil.

Brazil has alarming Covid-19 figures and a crisis at its soccer confederation which led to the suspension of president Rogerio Caboclo after a sexual harassment charge. Caboclo denies any wrongdoing.

Two years ago Brazil won the title without injured Neymar in a 3-1 win over Peru. Next Saturday’s final, which will be played in front of no fans due to the Covid-19 pandemic, promises to be more challenging.