Brazil edged past Peru with a pulsating 3-1 victory in the final of the 2019 Copa America to seal their ninth triumph in the competition at the Maracana in Rio de Janeiro.
The two sides met in the third match of the group stages, which saw the Selecao emerge with a whopping 5-0 victory. They couldn't manage a repeat of that scoreline in the final, but they won't be complaining, as they secured their first Copa America title for 12 years.
The home side started shakily, but soon got to grips with an energetic Peruvian side and they began to take control of the game. They made their pressure count when an unmarked Everton steered the ball home from a deep Gabriel Jesus cross on 15 minutes.
1/1 - Everton scored with Brazil's first shot attempted against Peru ; the previous time a team had scored with their first shot in a Copa America final had also been Brazil, in 2007, against Argentina (Julio Baptista, 4'). ¿Premonition?#CopaAmerica pic.twitter.com/EvI53jo6qT— OptaJavier (@OptaJavier) July 7, 2019
Unlike this fixture a couple of weeks ago, Peru were able to maintain their composure, restrict Brazil's play and keep the score down to 1-0 for the majority of the half. That was until they were awarded a penalty just before half-time, which Paolo Guerrero duly stuck home to draw the score level on 44 minutes.
Just as Peru manager Ricardo Gareca thought he would have a positive team talk to give at the break, Jesus broke through to regain the Brazilian lead with the last kick of the half. A sucker punch for Peru.
The second half was fairly uneventful, as Peru looked happy to keep their one-goal deficit until a golden opportunity presented itself. And in a way, it did in the 70th minute as Jesus was given a harsh second yellow card, reducing the hosts to ten men. Peru smelled blood.
However, they couldn't make their man advantage count and instead gifted the trophy to Brazil when Carlos Zambrano's brainless foul saw the hosts awarded a penalty, which they converted to seal a 3-1 victory in a Copa America classic.
Key Talking Point
The Selecao came into the competition knowing they would be without their star man Neymar, who has missed the tournament through injury. Nevertheless, those who have played in his place have done their country proud to deliver their first South American title for over a decade.
1 - Everton's goal for Brazil was the first goal in a Copa America final since 2011 (Diego Forlan, 90th minute, Uruguay 3-0 Paraguay), after 255 goalless minutes in the final game. Net.#CopaAmerica pic.twitter.com/qFc7abYmJF— OptaJavier (@OptaJavier) July 7, 2019
The disappointment of recent tournaments along with the national team's lack of playing time in Brazil have fuelled a disconnect between the players and fans. Copa America victory in front of the home supporters will have gone a long way to repair this, as fans and players alike rejoice in this moment of glory.
In typical Brazilian fashion, they didn't achieve this without a few scares along the way, but this will go down as a memorable night in Brazilian football history.
Starting XI: Alisson (6); Alves
Jesus came up with the goods at the key moments during this final and is ultimately the reason Brazil were crowned champions on Sunday night. His quick feet and exquisite cross for the first goal gave Everton a simple finish to give the hosts the lead early on.
Following Peru's equaliser against the run of play, in the face of adversity, Jesus showed a cool head to calmly slot it past Pedro Gallese to retake the lead immediately. He remained a constant threat in the second half and was unlucky not to contribute to any more goals.
Jesus was visibly distraught at getting a red card in the second half, as what seemed to be a fairly innocuous aerial challenge was deemed worthy of a second yellow card. Luckily it didn't affect the result, and this final will be remembered as one that belongs to Jesus.
Key Talking Point
Peru have only beaten the Selecao on four occasions out of a possible 44, so the odds were heavily stacked against them coming into this final. Nevertheless, having done so well to make it this far, they will be slightly disappointed with how they performed on the big stage.
After conceding a poor goal early on, they did brilliantly to get back into the game from Guerrero's penalty kick. Their reaction to the first goal of the game was exemplary. Their reaction to the second of the game was anything but.
Clearly desperate for half-time, they suffered a lapse in concentration and allowed Brazil to retake the lead immediately and sacrifice a massive opportunity in this game. Jesus' red card gave them new hope later on, but a needless foul in the box in the dying minutes gifted Brazil another goal to put the game to bed.
Starting XI: Gallese (6); Advincula (5), Zambrano (4), Abram (6), Trauco (7); Tapia (6), Yotun (6), Cueva (7); Flores (6), Guerrero (8*), Carillo (5)
Substitutes: Ruidiaz (6), Gonzales (6),
Guerrero was the standout man for the Peruvians once again and he is unfortunate to only end the night with a runners-up medal. He showed exceptional composure from the penalty spot to send the imposing Alisson the wrong way, having been made to wait so long to take it.
You can understand why the striker was a little upset at half-time, having seen his teammates concede so soon after. He continued playing well in the second half however and held the ball up well as Peru searched for another equaliser.
Alas, his efforts weren't quite enough, as Brazil proved themselves to be the better team on the night.
Brazil will face Peru once against this autumn, as the two meet in a friendly game. September also sees the Selecao meet Colombia, who will be one of the host countries for next year's Copa America, along with Argentina.
Aside from the autumn friendly with Sunday's opponents, where they will be looking for some kind of revenge, Peru face a double-header against Uruguay, who they knocked out in the quarter-finals of this summer's tournament.