Copa America host Brazil began their title defense with a comfortable win over Covid-hit Venezuela in the opening match of the tournament. Talisman Neymar scored one goal and assisted another, adding a second with a penalty in the second half for Tite’s team, before setting up Gabriel Barbosa late.
Paris Saint-Germain defender Marquinhos scored in the 23rd minute when Venezuela failed to finish a corner. Brazil won the first Copa America title in 12 years in 2019 and Neymar is 10 goals behind Pele’s record of 77 goals for Brazil.
Twelve Venezuelan players and coaching staff tested positive for COVID-19 the day before the opening match of Group A, which also includes Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. Colombia won the opening game 1–0 against Ecuador, with Edwin Cardona scoring the only goal of the game minutes before the break from a clever free-kick.
The goal was initially dismissed for offside, but the assistant video referee (VAR) reversed the decision. Everton striker Richardson’s goal in the first half was canceled for offside and Neymar missed close, with Brazil initially struggling to make their dominance count.
Neymar scored his 67th international goal after Danilo was fouled by John Kamana, but missed another great opportunity to close Pele’s national record of 77, shooting wide after breaking Venezuela’s defense in the final leg. The PSG striker scored for goalkeeper Joel Greatrol before replacing Barbosa with a tap-in.
The 47th edition of the Copa America – delayed by a year due to the coronavirus outbreak – takes place in Brazil, after Colombia and Argentina pulled out of the tournament. The Confederation of South American Football (CONMEBOL) terminated Colombia as co-host in May amid anti-government protests and Argentina was later replaced due to a rise in COVID-19 cases in the country.
The BBC broadcasts all 28 games in the Copa America 2021, which runs until 10 July and includes 10 CONMEBOL nations.