Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 31 March 2020

Roberto Firmino on target as classy Brazil blast their way past Peru to punch ticket to 2019 Copa America quarter-finals

Casemiro, Firmino, Soares, Alves and Willian on the scoresheet as 5-0 win sees Brazil top Group A with seven points

Hosts Brazil secured their place in the quarter-finals of the 2019 Copa America with a 5-0 thrashing of Peru in Sao Paulo in a performance that left manager Tite purring.

After playing in front of stadiums barely three-quarters full in their first two Group A matches, a crowd of 42,000 showed up and were in fine voice as Brazil displayed a ruthlessness in front of goal lacking in their 3-0 win over Bolivia and stalemate against Venezuela.

Real Madrid midfielder Casemiro opened the scoring on 12 minutes following a goalmouth scramble and Roberto Firmino doubled the lead seven minutes later after Peru goalkeeper Pedro Gallese fluffed a clearance.

The Liverpool striker charged down the kick and the ball rebounded off the post but Firmino picked up the rebound and rounded Gallese to stroke home into an unguarded net for his first goal at this year's Copa.

Everton Soares' drilled shot beat Gallese at his near post before captain Dani Alves got on the scoresheet to kill the tie with only eight minutes of the second half played. The Paris Saint-Germain right-back applied the finishing touch following a fine Brazil move as the hosts turned on the samba style to fire a warning shot to their Copa title rivals.

Substitute Willian made it five with a vicious strike from outside the box in the final minute, before Gallese salvaged some pride by saving a Gabriel Jesus spot kick in injury time.

"We were creative, precise, clinical and effective," Tite said, adding it was one of the best performances during his three years in charge.

Brazil secured top spot in Group A with seven points two ahead of Venezuela, who beat Bolivia 3-1.

Peru, on four points, could still progress as one of the best third-placed teams.

Tite said the two early goals allowed Brazil to play their natural game.

"Since we scored in the first half we had to maintain that tempo," he said. "We kept the same attitude and we were still creating chances in the 47th minute of the second half."

Brazil had left the field to a chorus of boos at half time following underwhelming first-half performances against Bolivia and Venezuela.

"When you manage to score a goal, it calms you down and gives you continuity for the rest of the match," said captain Alves.

"And when the goal doesn't come, it seems to create anxiety."

The only down side for Brazil was a second yellow card in three games for Casemiro, which means the holding midfielder will miss Thursday's quarter-final.

Second-placed Venezuela will face the second team in Group B on Friday at the Maracana in Rio de Janeiro.

"It’s not up to us now, that’s the uncomfortable situation," Peru manager Ricardo Gareca said.

"They were better than us from start to finish. Brazil had lots of chances in their other games and never took them. Today they took them."

Former Al Jazira forward Jefferson Farfan said "it was one of the toughest" matches of his life, and jumped to the defence of Gallese, whose horror gaffe cost Peru the second goal while he was partially to blame for at least two others.

"Everyone played badly today," Farfan said.

Alves announced he was leaving French champions Paris Saint-Germain after Sunday's match.

The flamboyant full-back joined the Parisians in 2017 after spells at Sevilla, Barcelona and Juventus, but he did not say what his next move would be after leaving PSG.

"Another cycle in my life ends today, a victorious cycle, one of learning and experiences," Alves, 36, wrote on Instagram. "I would like to thank the PSG family for the opportunity we had together to build a page in the club’s history."

Alves, who replaced club mate Neymar as Brazil captain for the Copa America last month, won two Ligue 1 titles and one French Cup in his two seasons at Parc des Princes.

Updated: June 23, 2019 10:51 AM

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