Thursday, July 14, 2011

Brazil reach Copa quarters in style

Posted by Admin On 10:54 AM

A brace each from Alexandre Pato and Neymar let defensive champion Brazil beat Ecuador 4-2 to reach the Copa America quarter-finals on Wednesday. Defeat for Mano Menezes' side at the Estadio Mario Alberto Kempes would have sent them deafening out of the rivalry, but they produced a battling show to win Group B and earn a last-eight date with pond rivals Paraguay.

Felipe Caicedo twice got Ecuador back on level terms, cancelling out Pato's opener and then Neymar's second goal for Brazil, but the Selecao moved up a mechanism when required to do so to ensure their progress - and Ecuador's exit. Menezes hand Maicon a starting berth at the expense of Barcelona's Dani Alves, the Inter Milan man turning in a star appearance for Brazil, while Robinho also return to the starting XI.

The Brazilians bossed proceedings from the outset but move aggressively to create clear-cut chances early on. The deadlock was broken in the 27th minute when Andre Santos irritated from the left and Pato head home. Robinho struck the bar as Brazil search for a second goal, with Maicon's marauding runs down the right reason all sorts of harms for Ecuador.

Brazil restored their advantage within four minutes of the resume, Pato setting up Santos star Neymar to make it 2-1, but once again the lead was short-lived as another Caicedo shot from outside the box found its way past Julio Cesar in the 58th minute. Ecuador may have been sensing a shock was on the cards, but when Brazil went ahead for a third time there was no way back.

Goalkeeper Marcelo Elizaga could not hold onto a Neymar shot and Pato pounced on the loose ball to make it 3-2 on the hour mark and then, 11 minutes later, Neymar notched his second after good play on the right by Maicon and Robinho. The result left Brazil top of the group ahead of shock package Venezuela - who will play Chile in the quarter-finals - and third-placed Paraguay, with Ecuador bottom of the pile.


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