Coutinho’s goal ruled out; Peru sparkle

Salvador: Brazil were held to a 0-0 draw against Venezuela in the Copa America as a late strike from Philippe Coutinho was disallowed after a controversial VAR decision.

Coutinho thought he had fired Brazil into the quarterfinals in the 87th minute when he bundled home a finish from Everton Soares’ driving run down the left wing at Salvador’s Arena Fonte Nova on Tuesday.

But for the second time in the match, Chilean referee Julio Bascunan ruled out the Brazilian goal after being alerted to an infringement by the video assistant referee.

The goal appeared to have been disallowed due to a touch by Liverpool striker Roberto Firmino, although it was not clear that Firmino had been offside as the ball grazed him on the way into the net.

Brazil left the field to boos but remain top of Group A with four points from two games, and one game to play.

Venezuela have two points from two games and will fancy their chances of advancing with their final game coming against Bolivia, who suffered their second straight defeat earlier Tuesday in a 3-1 loss to Peru.

Brazil, who had made hard work of beating Bolivia in their opener, once again struggled to find a creative spark against well-organised opponents.

Firmino was kept quiet by Venezuela’s defence with Yordan Osorio and Mikel Villanueva neutralizing the Liverpool striker.

The tale of the first half lay in the statistics from the opening 45 minutes, with Brazil recording only one shot on target despite enjoying 75 percent possession.

In fact, the best chance of the half fell to Venezuela, when Salomon Rondon headed Yangel Herrera’s cross just inches wide with Alisson beaten.

Firmino did get the ball in the Venezuela net in the 38th minute but the goal was disallowed after Bascunan ruled Villanueva had been fouled in the build-up.

Brazil left the field to loud boos and whistling, and manager Tite wasted no time in making a change at half-time, bringing on Manchester City’s Gabriel Jesus for Richarlison.

Jesus made an instant impact looking lively down the left flank and curling a shot just wide of the post on 57 minutes. But Brazil didn’t create much chances thereafter and had to settle for a draw.

Closer to quarterfinals

Captain Paolo Guerrero and forward Jefferson Farfan each scored one and created another as Peru took a huge step towards qualifying for the quarterfinals with a 3-1 Group A victory over Bolivia.

Bolivia took the lead from the penalty spot when Marcelo Moreno sent goalkeeper Pedro Gallese the wrong way from 12 yards.

But Guerrero equalised before half-time and Farfan gave Peru a deserved lead before Edison Flores put the seal on Peru’s victory in stoppage time at Rio de Janeiro’s iconic Maracana stadium on Tuesday.

With four points from two games ahead of their final group encounter with hosts Brazil, Peru can rest assured that no team has ever failed to qualify for the knockout rounds with that total since the current 12-team format was adopted in 1993.

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Rohit Kumar founded Vimocafe in 2016. He covers Entertainment news from the Hindi, Tamil, Telugu and Kannada Film industries.