Brazil needed two late goals to secure a 2-1 comeback victory over Colombia in the Copa America.
Luiz Diaz’s 10th minute strike put Colombia ahead, but Roberto Firmino equalized for Brazil with 12 minutes to go. Casemiro then scored a dramatic winner in the ninth minute of injury time.
Brazil made five changes to the side that saw off Peru on Friday. Alisson, Richarlison and captain Marquinhos were all among those to be drafted back into the starting line-up.
Colombia broke the deadlock with their first chance of the game. Juan Cuadrado sent a delightful cross into the box and Diaz was on hand to finish with a superb bicycle kick.
Brazil dominated the first half but struggled to convert their dominance into clear-cut chances as the hosts went into the break with a deficit.
The second half was practically one-way traffic as the five-time world champions continued to push forward in search of an equalizer. Brazil came close to equalizing when Neymar hit the post after rounding David Ospina.
Although Colombia defended resolutely, Brazil got a deserved leveler when two of their substitutes combined to equalize in the 78th minute.
Renan Lodi sent a precise cross into the box that evaded the heads of all the Colombia defenders. Roberto Firmino, however, timed his run to perfection and glanced a downward header into the back. His effort evaded Ospina, who should have done better.
There were vociferous complaints from the Colombian players about the validity of the goal as Neymar’s attempted through ball was deflected off referee Nestor Pitana.
The Argentine referee – who officiated the 2018 FIFA World Cup final – asked for clarity from his VAR team. After a lengthy review, the goal was allowed to stand.
The Colombian players continued to voice their displeasure, led by captain and goalkeeper David Ospina.
The referee, however, did not have any of that and booked the Napoli man for dissent.
Considering all the stoppages in the game, it came as no surprise when the scoreboard showed that 10 minutes of injury time were to be added. A last-ditch corner kick was taken by Neymar from which Casemiro rose highest to score the winner.
Here are five talking points from the game.
#5 Brazil secure top spot in Group B
Brazil, the defending champions, ended their 12-year Copa America drought with a ninth continental crown on home turf two years ago.
The Selecao, who are overwhelming favorites to retain the title, have shown their statement of intent with their group stage displays so far.
Brazil and Colombia had already guaranteed progress to the knockout round ahead of the kickoff. But there was the not-so-small matter of first place to decide in the group.
As it happened, it was the the home side that got the job done and winning the group sets them on a different course to eternal rivals Argentina. This leaves the door open for a potential Clásico del Atlántico tournament decider in July.
#4 Impressive Casemiro shows his value at both ends
Casemiro is unarguably one of the finest holding midfielders of his generation. His effectiveness in shielding the defense has been integral to Real Madrid’s successes.
He has also translated that form onto the international scene in recent times, having initially struggled to perform at an optimum level for Brazil.
So far in the tournament, the 29-year-old has done his duties admirably. He has been one of Brazil’s better players in the two games he has completed.
The former Porto man spent much of the game breaking up any attempted forward forays from the Colombia attackers.
Casemiro has also improved on his goalscoring output since last year. He stepped up to score a vital winner for his country with practically the last kick of the game.
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