Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 23 September 2019

Brazil have three goals disallowed in disappointing draw with Venezuela at 2019 Copa America

Firmino's first-half effort chalked off for a foul while VAR twice comes to visitors' rescue in Group A match in Salvador

Brazil were denied three goals and wasted a host of chances as they were held to a goalless draw by Venezuela in their 2019 Copa America Group A match.

The Video Assistant Referee (VAR) twice came to Venezuela's rescue while Brazil striker Roberto Firmino also had a first-half effort ruled out for a foul.

Philippe Coutinho, who scored twice in Brazil's 3-0 win over Bolivia earlier in the week, had a chance to seal the Selecao's place in the quarter-finals late on, but after a VAR review the Chilean referee Julio Bascunan judged that Firmino had touched the ball on its way to goal, although it was not entirely clear that the Liverpool striker was in an offside position.

It reflected Brazil's dominance in which Alisson's goal became prime real estate in the second half with Venezuela players rarely trespassing close to it.

Nevertheless, this felt like two points lost rather than one gained for Tite's Brazil.

The point put Brazil level at the top of Group A alongside Peru, who beat Bolivia 3-1 in the earlier match. Venezuela have two points from as many games to sit third in the table.

The final whistle was greeted by a cacophony of boos and jeers from the unimpressed 39,000 supporters at the Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador that was only around three-quarters full.

Brazil defender Thiago Silva defended his side and said the criticism levelled at the squad was unjustified.

"Venezuela were very defensive, we were sometimes too hasty in trying to make a quick final pass and that led us to lose a bit of confidence. But when you don't score goals it looks like everything is wrong," he told reporters.

"In the second half they practically never got out their own area. We didn't win because of small details."

Brazil, who made heavy going of beating Bolivia in their opener, again struggled to exert pressure early on against a team bent on getting as many bodies behind the ball as possible.

Venezuela's tactics worked a treat initially, with Brazil enjoying 75 per cent possession in the opening 45 minutes but registering only one shot on target.

In fact, the best chance of the half fell to Solomon Rondon, but Venezuela's all-time leading scorer failed to add to his tally of 24 goals as he headed Yangel Herrera's cross just wide.

Firmino thought he had opened his 2019 Copa account on 38 minutes, but Bascunan ruled that the Liverpool front man had fouled Mikel Villanueva in the buildup.

Brazil fans, who have failed to turn up in large numbers for either of their country's games so far, let Tite know their frustrations at half time , prompting the manager to withdraw the ineffective Richarlison for Gabriel Jesus at the break.

The Manchester City striker's impact was almost instant. Playing on the left of an attacking front three, Jesus looked to take on his opposite number Ronald Hernandez at every opportunity, and was just wide with an effort on 57 minutes after cutting inside and letting fly with his favoured right foot.

Minutes later, Jesus thought he had made the breakthrough. Another menacing run and shot saw the ball fall to Firmino after a ricochet off a Venezuela defender. Firmino squared the ball back towards Jesus, who had continued his run into the box. After taking a touch to steady himself, Jesus fired home past Wuilker Farinez.

Brazil celebrations were quickly dampened though as the referee was alerted to a possible infringement in the buildup, and after a VAR review the goal was chalked off with Firmino penalised for offside after collecting the ball from Jesus's initial deflected shot.

Coutinho looked to have broken the deadlock three minutes from time, but VAR's intervention rescued a precious point for Venezuela.

Fernandinho almost snatched victory with a header in the 10th minute of time added on, but his effort rolled just wide of the post.

Brazil coach Tite said he had no issues with the two VAR-assisted decisions that ruled out his side's goals.

"They made the right call with both goals," Tite said. "VAR was correct. I have absolutely nothing to demand - we got justice."

Venezuela counterpart Rafael Dudamel meanwhile praised an "almost perfect" performance from his team.

"Today is very important, but this result will mean nothing if we don't qualify from the group," Dudamel said.

Brazil meet Peru in their final group game on Saturday with both sides needing only a draw to seal their place in the quarter-finals. Venezuela have two points while Bolivia are without a point, with the two facing each other on Saturday.

Updated: June 19, 2019 12:02 PM

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