Reigning champion Brazil is headed to a second consecutive continental final, but only after a close win that came with its share of nervy moments.
A first-half goal from Lucas Paqueta pushed Brazil through to the title game at Copa America 2021, as the strike gave the tournament host a 1-0 win over Peru. Paqueta struck in the 35th minute of the semifinal match at Estadio Olimpico Nilton Santos in Rio de Janeiro after a great individual move from Neymar, who got away from two defenders by megging Alexander Callens to deliver the assisting low cross.
BRAZIL TAKE THE LEAD! 🇧🇷
What a set up by Neymar 🔥 pic.twitter.com/X3zIlW5su8
— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) July 5, 2021
La Verde-amarela had to hold off a strong push from Peru in the second half, with Brazil goalkeeper Ederson providing a pair of good low saves to deny Gianluca Lapadula and Raziel Garcia. Callens also came close to finding the equalizer for La Blanquirroja on a set piece, but he headed wide of frame after rising above Ederson to get to the ball first.
Brazil had been the dominant side in the first half, creating a number of chances before Paqueta struck. Peru netminder Pedro Gallese came up with several strong stops, though, including an impressive double save on Neymar and Richarlison in the 19th minute.
The narrow victory moves Brazil into Saturday’s final at the Maracana Stadium, where the nation won the last Copa America crown two years ago with a 3-1 win over Peru.
Brazil could face arch-nemesis Argentina in the latest edition of their storied rivalry in the championship game. Argentina plays Colombia in Tuesday’s semifinal, with the winner advancing to play Brazil and the loser taking on Peru in the third-place game on Friday.