Costa Rica holds Brazil to scoreless draw


Brazil apparent has its work cut out for them in this Copa America.

Coming into the tournament, Brazil had looked anything but impressive, winning just twice in its last eight matches, and the last result was a 1-1 draw against the USMNT back on June 12. Still, Brazil had hoped that just starting the tournament against Costa Rica on Monday night would be more than enough to shake them off its funk and get them back on track.

Los Ticos however had other plans. Playing a five-man backline, Costa Rica surprisingly showed its mettle. Yes Brazil spent a whole bunch of time in Costa Rica’s half of the field, and key refereeing decisions ended up playing a role in the match, but still, Costa Rica did not break, and earned a well-deserved point following its 0-0 draw at SoFi Stadium.

Brazil thought they had edged ahead in the 30th minute. Raphinna sent a free kick into the penalty area, Rodrygo headed a ball to the far post and Marquinhos swooped in and slotted the ball into the back net. However, referee César Arturo Ramos Palazuelos got the call from the VAR referee, and it showed that Vinicius Junior was in an offside position before Raphinna made contact with the ball, and while he didn’t touch the ball during the sequence, VAR determined his offside position may have been enough to impede Costa Rica’s defense of the set piece, therefore the goal was waived off.

The VAR Offside call was not the only issue Brazil may have had with the referee on this night. Back in the 22nd minute, Brazil was threatening, Rodrygo played Vini Jr. into the penalty area, Costa Rica’s Haxzel Quiros immediately contested Vini Jr. and the two collided in the penalty area, but Ramos Palazuelos determined that the only thing Quiros was guilty of was mere shoulder to shoulder contact, and he let play continue. Later, in the 26th minute, after Sequeira denied Raphinna on a breakaway, Bruno Guimarares kept the play alive in the box, made a move inside, Brandon Aguilera came in to defend and collided with Guimaraes, but again, Ramos Palazuelos determined the contact was not malicious enough to warrant a penalty.

Brazil were the aggressors from the start. The Selecao got its first chance in the eighth minute, as Danilo sprung Raphinna down the left side, Raphinna dribbled down the penalty area, but his shot was easily saved by keeper Patrick Sequeira. Three minutes later, Rodrygo and Lucas Paqueta worked a one-two that got Rodrygo behind the Costa Rica defense, Rodrygo shot for the far post, but missed.

Brazil kept up its aggression in the second half, as Paqueta sprung Raphinna into the penalty area in the 61st minute, played a ball to Vini Jr, who then flicked a ball around the six-yard box, Rodrygo swooped in and took the shot, but Quiros slid and blocked the shot and the ball actually went off Rodrygo’s face and Francisco Calvo cleared the ball out of the penalty area. Brazil’s best chance of the second half came a minute later, as Paqueta launched a left-footed volley from about 27 yard out, and looked to be out of Sequeira’s reach, but the framework saved Costa Rica, as the ball bounced off the near post. Paqueta attempted another long-range volley in the 78th minute, but this time, Sequeira did not need help from the framework, as he dove to his right to make the save. 

Costa Rica almost gifted Brazil the lead in the 72nd minute. Savio took the ball inside the penalty area, took the ball towards the end line, then sent a ball into the six-yard box, Quiros headed a ball, but dangerously towards his goal, but Sequeira made himself big enough to redirect the ball over the end line, preventing what would’ve been a disastrous own goal. Brazil’s last shot at getting out of Inglewood with three points came in the 87th minute, as Rodrygo tried to beat Sequeira to a 50-50 ball, Rodrygo ultimately won that battle, but could not get into position to shoot into an open net, nevertheless, Rodrygo had the ball inside the 18m shot for the far post, but Juan Pablo Vargas calmly headed the ball away from goal.


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