Saturday, December 4, 2021

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Neymar stars as Brazil bat Venezuela in Copa America opener

Hosts Brazil began the defence of their Copa America title with a comfortable 3-0 victory over a Covid-ravaged Venezuela in the tournament’s opening match Sunday.

Paris Saint-Germain superstar Neymar scored the second for Tite’s side with a second-half penalty before setting up Gabriel Barbosa late onto complete the victory.

Neymar’s teammate in Paris, defender Marquinhos bundled in a 23rd-minute opener after Venezuela failed to clear a corner.

Everton forward Richarlison had a first-half goal disallowed for offside and Neymar missed from close range as Brazil initially struggled to make their dominance count.

Neymar scored his 67th international goal after Yohan Cumana fouled Danilo, but he missed another great chance to move closer to Pele’s national record of 77, shooting wide after breaking through the Venezuela defence in the closing stages.

The PSG forward then rounded goalkeeper Joel Graterol before squaring to substitute Barbosa for a tap-in.

Twelve of Venezuela’s players and coaching staff tested positive for Covid-19 a day before their opening match in Group A, which also includes Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.

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