Brazil held by Ecuador in Copa America opener
Brazil were saved by a controversial disallowed goal as they squandered several chances in a 0-0 draw with Ecuador in their Copa America Group B opener on Saturday.
Despite seeing their team come close several times the Selecao traveling support had to settle for a single point as the eight-time champions lost momentum in the second half at Pasadena’s Rose Bowl.
The game was overshadowed by a controversial line decision in the 66th minute as Brazil goalkeeper Alisson fumbled an innocuous Miller Bolanos cross into his own net.
The ball was judged to have gone out of play before it reached the Roma keeper, sparking an angry backlash from the Ecuador squad, who said the call was wrong and had cost them victory.
“I saw it 25 times on video just now and the ball never went out completely — maybe 65 percent but not completely,” said Ecuador head coach Gustavo Quinteros.
“The linesman is so sure of himself even though he is 50 meters away,” the Bolivian complained, adding that “unfortunately the referee again has made a mistake in favor of the stronger team.”
Brazil manager Dunga said he hadn’t been close enough to judge whether the goal should have been allowed, and went on to accuse Ecuador of time-wasting.
“We tried to win the game from beginning, in many different ways. The goalkeeper from Ecuador from the first half started to waste time,” he told reporters after the final whistle.
The game began at an intense tempo with a flurry of chances at either end in front of a disappointing crowd of 53,158 which filled just over half of the stadium, the venue of Brazil’s 1994 World Cup final victory over Italy.
Both teams had been prepared for intense heat but southern California’s searing daytime temperatures had cooled by kick-off to a merciful 78 degrees fahrenheit (26 degrees celsius).
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Brazil were without several first choice players, most notably their talismanic captain Neymar, and they were clearly missing the Barcelona forward’s bite.
The best chances fell at either end of the match to Liverpool midfielder Philippe Coutinho, who forced a corner from close, and Paris St Germain winger Lucas Lima, whose glancing header narrowly missed the target.
Brazil began to take control halfway through the first half as the pace dropped, with Coutinho and Filipe Luis getting plenty of room down the left and Willian’s pace forcing the aging Walter Ayovi to drop increasingly deeper.
Ecuador looked sporadically dangerous on the counter, tempting Brazil’s Casemiro and Elias into yellow card fouls while Gil was booked for dissent.
Their best chance before half time came via a 25-yard free-kick from West Ham forward Enner Valencia, which was plucked comfortably out of the air by Alisson.
Ecuador were brighter in the second half, with Valencia holding the ball up well and Swansea winger Jefferson Montero looking dangerous, but the game petered out to jeers at the final whistle.
Dunga’s five-time World Cup winners face Haiti on Wednesday in Orlando where they will be expected to win comfortably.
“The Copa America is a very difficult tournament. Now we have to think about winning the next game… To score a goal we have to think about being better in attack,” Dunga said.
Ecuador, who entered the tournament tied with Uruguay at the top of CONMEBOL’s World Cup Qualifying table, face Peru in Arizona on the same night.