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Coutinho brace silences Brazilian boos in Copa America opener

The hosts beat Bolivia 3-0 in Friday’s Group A curtain-raiser.

Philippe Coutinho celebrates scoring for Brazil.
Philippe Coutinho celebrates scoring for Brazil.

PHILIPPE COUTINHO SCORED a brace as Brazil opened the Copa America with a 3-0 win over Bolivia in Sao Paulo.

After an underwhelming first half at Estadio do Morumbi, Coutinho scored twice within eight minutes of the restart to put Brazil in control on Friday.

A VAR check and handball led Coutinho to the penalty spot and the Barcelona star made no mistake in the 50th minute before making it 2-0 three minutes later after capping a sweeping move.

Everton came off the bench and scored the goal of the night with a blistering effort from outside the area in the 84th minute as the Selecao – who have won the Copa on each of the previous four occasions they have hosted in 1919, 1922, 1949 and 1989 – made a winning start in Group A.

Playing without superstar Neymar after he was ruled out of the tournament with an ankle injury, 2018 World Cup quarter-finalists Brazil dominated but struggled to create any real clear-cut chances.

Thiago Silva saw a header flash wide of the post and Casemiro came close with an audacious effort for Brazil, who had 77 per cent of the possession in the opening 45 minutes.

The half-time whistle was met by a chorus of boos around the stadium amid a subdued atmosphere as Brazil failed to impress against Bolivia – a nation in which they had won nine and drawn two of the past 11 games on home soil, scoring 46 goals and conceding just four times.

But a VAR check helped ease some of the tension and pressure with the ground after Adrian Jusino was adjudged to have handled the ball inside the penalty area.

Coutinho successfully converted the spot-kick before he completed a quick-fire double after latching on to Roberto Firmino’s cross at the back post.

The result was never in doubt from that point as Brazil turned the boos into cheers in the south-west of Sao Paulo, where substitute Everton scored a stunning long-range goal with six minutes remaining.

- Omni

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