Men's Team

Jesus helps Brazil start Copa America defence with victory

Jesus helps Brazil start Copa America defence with victory
Gabriel Jesus played 85 minutes in Brazil’s comfortable 3-0 win against Venezuela as the hosts kicked off their defence of the Copa America in style.

Marquinhos’ close-range finish gave the Selecao a 23rd minute lead, before a Neymar penalty and late Gabriel Barbosa strike added an emphatic look to the scoreline.

Jesus went close to grabbing the tournament’s first goal early on, but the City man couldn’t quite stretch far enough to tap home Richarlison’s flick-on at the back post from a Neymar corner.

Venezuela, with twelve players and staff ruled out with positive Coronavirus tests, managed to come out of the opening 20 unscathed, but the holders’ pressure told soon after from another set-piece situation.

Neymar’s searching ball was flicked on by Everton forward Richarlison at the near post, with a deflection falling favourably into the path of Paris Saint-Germain’s Marquinhos, who bundled home to hand Brazil a goal advantage at the break.

Once again, Jesus was in the thick of the action in the second half and was close to an assist when Neymar was a matter of inches from making a clean contact on his vicious low ball across the box.

The PSG forward wasn’t to be denied a second time though, sending Joel Graterol the wrong way from the spot after former City defender Danilo was sent tumbling inside the box.

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After another impressive shift for his national side, Jesus was substituted with Brazil two goals to the good, coming off for Real Madrid’s Vinicius Junior with five to play.

But there was just enough time for Flamengo’s Gabriel Barbosa to add a deserved third, tapping home after Neymar had rounded Graterol and squared from a tight angle.

The win means Jesus and co. sit top of Group B with Colombia, Peru and Ecuador still to play.

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Elsewhere, Edwin Cardona finished off a remarkable team move in the 42nd minute to hand Colombia all three points against a spirited Ecuador.

The attacking midfielder started the move with a short free-kick, before an intricate array of passes eventually found the Boca Juniors loanee, who made no mistake from close-range.

Colombia lock horns with Venezuela on Thursday, while Brazil welcome Peru on Friday morning.

And Sergio Aguero's Argentina kick-off their quest for Copa America glory this evening against Chile at 22:00 (UK).

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