Neymar carried on his brilliant form for Barça this season with a superb performance to lead Brazil to victory over Peru in the canarinha’s opening game of the Copa América in the southern city of Temuco in Chile. The blaugrana striker levelled things up for the side coached by Dunga early in the first half after Peru had taken an unexpected lead with just two minutes gone thanks to a goal fromCristian Cueva. Dani Alves, also in the starting 11 following his late call up to the Brazil squad, provided the cross for the captain to head his side level just two minutes later. Then, with the game appearing to be headed for a draw, Neymar conjured up a wonderful pass in injury time to allow substitute Douglas Costa to give his side an important 2-1 win in Group C. The FC Barcelona man now has 44 goals for his country at the age of just 23.
Early setback for Brazil
Dunga’s side were put on the back foot just two minutes into the contest when Cueva put Peru ahead. A hurried back pass from David Luiz put his goalkeeper under pressure and Jefferson played the ball straight to midfielder Cueva who took advantage to finish smartly. Peruvian joy was short lived, however, as a goal made at Camp Nou drew Brazil level, Dani Alves picking out Neymar with a perfect cross for the unmarked Brazilian captain to head home just four minutes in.
More chances in first half
The Barça striker could have had a second in the opening quarter of an hour when Zambrano cleared his effort off the line following good work from Diego Tardelli. Alves created another chance from the right hand side half way through the opening 45 minutes but Tardelli headed over from inside the penalty area. Both Peru keeper Gallese and his Brazilian counterpart Jefferson were called on to make important saves in the opening half. Neymar came close to giving his side the lead but Zambrano slid in to clear the ball off the line. The sides went in at half-time level with Peru looking capable of pulling off a shock against the eight-time Copa América champions.
Injury time winner
After the restart a Brazil team looking to put the disappointment of last year’s World Cup behind them began to get the better of their opponents. Neymar curled a wonderful effort from outside the box against the crossbar with Gallese well-beaten 10 minutes into the second half. Ricardo Gareca’s side defended with discipline with Brazil throwing men forward looking for the winner. Dani Alves was a constant threat down the right, playing in the gold and green shirt of Brazil just how he has in the blaugrana of Barça this season. The right back created an opportunity for Neymar in the last minute of regulation but the Brazil captain hurried his shot and the chance for victory appeared to have been lost. The Barça and Brazil number 10 had other ideas and his vision allowed him to pick out Douglas Costa through a crowd of defenders and the substitute slid the ball past Gallese to give his team an injury time victory. Brazil’s next game in Group C is against Colombia on Wednesday at 9.00pm local time.