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Brazil beat Venezuela &to reach Copa America quarters

Brazil beat Venezuela &to reach Copa America quarters

Roberto Firmino’s goal sinks South American rivals

By (Agencies)

Published: Tue 23 Jun 2015, 11:45 AM

Last updated: Wed 8 Jul 2015, 2:52 PM

Brazil’s Thiago Silva (fourth from right) celebrates with teammates after scoring against Venezuela. — A

Brazil’s Thiago Silva (fourth from right) celebrates with teammates after scoring against Venezuela. — AFP

Santiago — Playing without suspended star Neymar, Brazil defeated Venezuela 2-1 on Sunday in their final group game to reach the Copa America quarterfinals.

Thiago Silva scored with a volley in the 9th minute off a perfect delivery from a corner by Robinho — Neymar’s replacement. Roberto Firmino added the second in the 52nd, chipping in a cross from Willian. The loss in Group C eliminated Venezuela, which got an 84th-minute goal from Miku.

The final match in qualifying set up the quarterfinal pairings with Chile vs. Uruguay on Wednesday, Bolivia vs. Peru on Thursday, Argentina vs. Colombia on Friday and Saturday’s match pitting Brazil against Paraguay.

Asked about Neymar’s absence, Brazil coach Dunga replied: “Any team would miss Neymar, but when you don’t have him, you can’t feel sorry for yourself.”

Brazil seemed to play better without Neymar, at least early in the first half. Robinho and Philipe Coutinho, who replaced midfielder Fred, gave Brazil more attacking.

After scoring, Silva raced to the sideline and waved to Neymar, who was sitting in the stands — wrapped up under a blue winter cap — and jeered by Venezuela fans on a chilly night in the South American winter.

Dunga called the quarterfinal with Paraguay a “very tricky match” and likened it to “a final.”

“We have to respect everyone, but we can fear nobody.”

Brazil had a couple chances just after Silva’s goal with Robinho and Felipe Luis looking dangerous. But the attack stalled through most of the first half. Willan was stopped by Venezuela keeper Alain Baroja on a point-blank shot in the 39th.

Venezuela had their best chance in the 44th when Gabriel Cichero looped a shot from the left which went just wide of the far post.

Brazil started the second half quickly. Coutinho had a chance in the first minute with Firmino’s goal minutes later sealing the outcome.

Venezuela made it close in the 84th. Brazil keeper Jefferson dived to meet Juan Arango’s free kick, tipping it off the post with Miku heading it home. “We have the feeling we could have given a bit more,” Venezuela coach Noel Sanvicente said. “But worrying about it now doesn’t matter.”

Five-time World Cup champions Brazil are hoping to recover their reputation in this tournament, still stinging from a humiliating 7-1 loss to Germany in last year’s World Cup semifinals at home. They have looked ordinary in three group matches in Chile, a shadow of Brazilian teams that were once feared.

Brazil still remain favourites along with Argentina, with Chile, Colombia and defending champions Uruguay also viewed as contenders. Earlier, Peru held Colombia to a 0-0 draw to secure a spot in the quarterfinals.

Both had a lackluster performance on Sunday, however, failing to give Colombia the victory that would have secured their team a spot in the next round. “When you play poorly, you end up paying for it,” said Rodriguez, who thrived with Colombia at last year’s World Cup in Brazil. “We played poorly in the first match and we played poorly today, that’s why we are in trouble. If we want to win anything, we will have to work very hard.”

The Colombians played aggressively in the beginning and created a few good scoring chances at the match in the German Becker Stadium in Temuco. Peru played conservatively from the start, knowing that a draw would be enough to secure its spot in the quarterfinals. It threatened in a few counter-attacks but at all times seemed happy with the draw.

“We played knowing that they were under pressure, they needed the victory,” Peru defender Carlos Zambrano said. “It was really difficult, but the goal was to advance.” Falcao had the best chance to score less than five minutes into the game, firing a low shot that was saved by Peru goalkeeper Pedro Gallese. Colombia dominated possession the rest of the match but wasn’t able to threaten very often.

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