Brazil beat Peru by three goals to one in the final of the 2019 Copa America last Sunday to win the trophy for the ninth time. It was not unexpected. Before the competition even got underway, Brazil were one of three countries to keep an eye on according to a preview posted on the Colossus website. The other two, Chile and Peru, also did well.
Not only were the Brazilians fancied because of their undoubted footballing skills but also because of the fact that they were hosting the competition. On each of the four previous occasions that Brazil hosted Copa America, they won. They maintained their 100% record by making this their 5th win as the host nation this year.
Although the Brazilians were expected to win, they did it in style too, with only ten men. One of their goal-scoring heroes, Manchester City striker Gabriel Jesus, was the one who was sent off. For him, the game provided a mixture of emotions from high to low and back again to euphoria.
His highs came from an assist and a goal. The assist came in the 15th minute when Jesus put over a pinpoint accurate cross for teammate Everton Sousa Soares, more popularly referred to as Everton, to hit a first-time drive past Peruvian goalkeeper, Pedro Gallese.
The goal that Jesus scored came just before halftime with a neat finish from the edge of the penalty area. It meant that Brazil went in 2-1 after Paolo Guerrero had pulled Peru level from the penalty spot. Peru’s goal was the only one that Brazil conceded throughout the competition.
But Jesus’s joy was later to turn into despair when he had to leave the field of play with 20-minutes left to play after clattering into the back of Carlos Zambrano. He was awarded a yellow card. Unfortunately for him, it was his second of the game.
The decision was perhaps harsh as it looked as though Jesus had genuinely tried to play the ball. The 22-year-old remonstrated with the referee but to no avail. In his frustration at being sent off, he kicked a water bottle and tried to push over one of the VAR machines. He then burst into tears as one of the team staff members tried to calm him down.
He was afraid that his sending off could pave the way for Peru to equalise, but he needn’t have worried. In a slight reshuffle, the Brazilian playmaker, Philippe Coutinho, was taken off and replaced with Real Madrid defender Eder Militao. Brazil won a penalty when Everton was adjudged to have been fouled by Zambrano, and Richarlison converted from the penalty spot.
Jesus was delighted that his sending off did not cause Brazil to lose the game and his despair was replaced with euphoria.
Player of the tournament – Dani Alves
The Brazilian captain, Dani Alves, was voted the player of Copa America 2019. The 36-year-old, who currently plays for Paris Saint-Germain, was given the captain’s slot after it was announced that Neymar would not be playing due to an ankle injury.
Alves played his first game for the Brazilian national side in 2006. Since then, he has been included in the teams for two FIFA World Cups and four Copa America tournaments. Having led Brazil to victory this year before a home crowd in Rio de Janeiro, Alves has become the world’s first professional footballer to amass 40 trophies to his name – a magnificent achievement.