Brazil 2-1 Colombia: Selecao clinch top spot with 100th-minute winner amid controversy

Brazil 2-1 Colombia: Selecao clinch top spot with 100th-minute winner amid controversy

Defending champions Brazil secured top spot in Group B in dramatic fashion, claiming a last-gasp 2-1 win over Colombia as controversy marred the Copa America showdown.

Colombia were left seething when Brazil substitute Roberto Firmino’s 78th-minute equaliser came after the ball deflected off referee Nestor Pitana in the build-up – the official allowing play to continue rather than call for a drop-ball, leading to lengthy protests from Colombia.

Brazil compounded Colombia’s frustrations after Casemiro struck in the 10th minute of stoppage time as the Selecao extended their winning streak to 10 games on Wednesday.

Colombia had been holding on to a 1-0 lead after Luis Diaz’s spectacular 10th-minute volley, ending Brazil’s six-game run without conceding a goal.

Reinaldo Rueda’s Colombia took the lead in stunning fashion, when Juan Cuadrado whipped in a cross from the right flank, finding an unmarked Diaz – who fired home a sensational bicycle volley at the back post in Rio de Janeiro.

Brazil, who went into the game having scored more goals (seven) and had more shots on target per game (eight) than any other team at this year’s Copa America, struggled to create chances in the first 45 minutes.

Neymar had his first sniff on goal in the 55th minute from a direct ball he volleyed tamely on target, while he shot wide from outside the box shortly after.

In the 66th minute, half-time substitute Firmino produced a clever pass for Neymar to round goalkeeper David Ospina, only to hit the post off-balance from an angle.

Brazil found an equaliser with 12 minutes remaining, although it was controversial after the ball hit the referee in the lead-up, with play allowed to continue, rather than a drop-ball.

Tite’s Selecao immediately pushed the ball wide to substitute Renan Lodi, whose cross was glanced in by Firmino, with Ospina unable to prevent it from creeping under him.

With virtually the last kick of the game, an unmarked Casemiro headed in Neymar’s corner at the near post, sparking mass celebrations.

 

What does it mean? Brazil locked in for top spot

The win confirmed Brazil will head into the quarter-finals as group winners, while it also preserved their 100 per cent record at the Copa. The Selecao – who had already qualified for the knockout round – extended their winning run to 10 games.

Given the Ecuador-Peru draw earlier on Wednesday, avoiding a heavy defeat means Colombia are second and assured of a quarter-final spot with their group-stage complete, finishing with four points, but they can still finish as low as fourth in Group B.

No time or space for Neymar

Brazil had 69.2 per cent possession and more than double the number of passes than Colombia with Neymar central to their attacking play. The Paris Saint-Germain star copped a lot of tight attention from Colombia throughout the match but came into his own in the second half, carving out a few opportunities and whipping in the corner for Casemiro’s late winner. Neymar finished with a game-high five shots and an assist.

Brazil’s clean sheet run over

Tite’s Brazil had not conceded a goal since October 2020 before Diaz’s acrobatic volley. Selecao had six consecutive clean sheets, totalling 580 minutes, almost 10 hours, without shipping a goal.

What’s next?

Brazil complete their group stage against Ecuador in Goiania on Sunday. Colombia will wait to learn their Copa fate, having already contested their four fixtures.

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