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This blog reflects on soccer qua football all over the world. The blog has a specific investment in attractive, attacking football and, as such, focuses on Brazil, the most emphatic historical exponent of the beautiful game.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Copa America: Brazil beats Ecuador 4-2 through Pato and Neymar braces

Brazil 4 - Ecuador 2

Brazil beat Ecuador 4-2 in their final Copa America group match to set up a mouthwatering quarterfinal clash against Paraguay. Mano Menezes replaced Dani Alves with Maicon in a move that changed the complexion of the team and the Brazilian offense in particular. Maicon's blistering runs down the right flank effectively gave Brazil another attacking midfielder to supplement Ganso in setting up Robinho, Neymar and Pato. The Selecao started gingerly but began to find their footing after Andre Santos curled in a visionary cross to the center of the box which the onrushing Pato headed into the back of the net. Pato latched onto Santos's cross with all of the majesty and power of a true Brazilian center forward in the number 9 jersey. Scarcely 10 minutes later, Ecuador's Felipe Caceido equalized with a low shot that Julio Cesar let slip through his hands in what amounted to a huge goalkeeping blunder. Neymar put the Samba boys back in front minutes after the break by collecting an assist from Ganso and calmly slotting the ball to the keeper's left to score his first goal of the tournament. But the Ecuadorians refused to lie down while the Brazilians, correspondingly, found it difficult to contain Caceido. The Ecuadorian striker buried another low shot from near the edge of the box to make it 2-2 in the 59th minute.

But from then on, Brazil unleashed a magnificent display of its international experience and goalscoring strength. Pato poached a Neymar shot to score Brazil's third goal and then Neymar completed a brace by one-touching a Maicon cross from the far right to make it 4-2. Mano should be delighted with the fight of his team and the way in which Ganso is gradually finding his place at the heart of the Brazilian attacking midfield. Robinho almost scored on two occasions, once in the first half in which he hit the post, and another in injury time where his goal was judged offside, both times from Maicon assists. After three Copa America matches, the Brazilian team is finally beginning to gel, with the key against Ecuador stemming from the additional space created by the marauding full back Maicon. Maicon stretched the Ecuadorian defense and created more room for the strikers near the box. The Inter Milan right back appeared fresher than Dani Alves and made a compelling case for his inclusion in the starting line-up in Sunday's challenging quarterfinal match against Roque Santa Cruz and Paraguay.

Goals:

Brazil: Pato (28)
Ecuador: Caceido (37)
Brazi: Neymar (49)
Ecuador: Caceido (59)
Brazil: Pato (61)
Brazil: Neymar (72)

Line-ups:

Brazil: Julio Cesar; Maicon, Lucio, Thiago Silva, Andre Santos; Lucas Leiva, Ramires, Ganso; Robinho, Pato, Neymar

Ecuador: Marcelo Elizaga; Neicer Reasco, Norberto Araujo, Frickson Erazo, Walter Ayoví; Oswaldo Minda, Christian Noboa, Michael Arroyo, Edison Méndez; Christian Benítez, Geovanny Caicedo

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