After so much uncertainty, Copa America 2021 finally got underway on Sunday with a pair of games that came under vastly different circumstances.
Group B opened the latest edition of South America’s regional tournament, with hosts Brazil first routing a shorthanded Venezuela before Colombia used an exquisite set piece to edge Ecuador in a hard-fought affair.
Peru was off during Matchday 1, but there was plenty for that nation and all the other ones to dissect and analyze after the first pair of games.
This is how the Copa America 2021 began on Sunday, with updated Group B standings:
BRAZIL 3, VENEZUELA 0
(Marquinhos 23′, Neymar 64′, Gabriel Barbosa 89′)
Beating the reigning Copa America champions and competition hosts was always going to be a tough challenge for Venezuela, and that was before a COVID-19 outbreak ravaged the squad.
Brazil routed a depleted Venezuela in the first game of the tournament, getting goals from three different players to win by a 3-0 mark at the Mane Garrincha Stadium in Brasilia. Neymar led the way for La Verde-amarela with a goal and an assist, but Marquinhos scored the winner in the first half while Gabriel Barbosa added a late insurance goal.
Venezuela had to summon 15 new players on emergency notice after eight players on its official roster tested positive for COVID-19 on Saturday. La Vinotinto put up a tough fight all things considered against a Brazil that was not at its sharpest, but the visitors never really threatened.
Neymar ➡️ Gabi
Brazil makes it 3-0 💪🇧🇷 pic.twitter.com/Yi17MOVpsM
— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) June 13, 2021
COLOMBIA 1, ECUADOR 0
(Edwin Cardona 42′)
If you like seeing well-worked set pieces that lead to goals, Colombia’s winner vs. Ecuador is one you will not want to miss.
Colombia beat Ecuador by the slimmest margin in the nightcap, with Edwin Cardona firing home what appeared to be a drawn-up free kick in the 1-0 victory. Cardona struck three minutes before halftime at Arena Pantanal in Cuiaba off the dead-ball situation, which he initially played short to Juan Cuadrado before ultimately getting on the end of the sequence with a headed pass from a wide open Miguel Borja.
Ecuador had the better of possession in the second half as it searched for an equalizer, but La Tricolor failed to really test Los Cafeteros aside from one Pervis Estupiñan free kick that was pawed away by Colombia goalkeeper David Ospina.
¡Goooool de Colombia! 🔥😎
Qué golazo se inventaron los cafeteros y afortunadamente el VAR rectificó. ⚽
— TUDN USA (@TUDNUSA) June 14, 2021
GROUP B STANDINGS
1. Brazil……………3 pts……….+3 GD
2. Colombia……….3 pts……….+1 GD
3. Peru………………0 pts……….0 GD
4. Ecuador…………0 pts……….-1 GD
5. Venezuela……..0 pts……….-3 GD