Group B of the Copa America has been decided on the wee hours of Monday morning, and the biggest surprise is that Brazil have been knocked out of the tournament, suffering a narrow loss to Peru after a controversial goal by Raul Ruidiaz.
This is the first time in 29 years that Brazil have failed to make it to the knockout stages of the Copa America, as the Selecao clearly missed the presence of their talisman, FC Barcelona forward Neymar.
On the other hand, Ecuador pumped four goals past bottom team Haiti, as they leapfrogged Brazil into the second place in the group. This win sets them up for a quarter final date with host nation USA on Thursday.
Ecuador 4-0 Haiti
The equation was very simple for Ecuador ahead of the Haiti game. Get a win against Haiti, and hope that either Brazil or Peru win in the other match of Group B.
To their credit, La Tri were quick to get off the blocks, as they soared into the lead via an Enner Valencia goal in the 11th minute of the match. The West Ham forward had to work with a tight angle, but managed to curl a low shot round goalkeeper Johny Placide, into the far corner of the net.
While that would have calmed a few Ecuadorian nerves, they still knew they had a long way to go in order to give themselves a chance of qualifying for the quarter finals.
Haiti kept most of the possession but it was Ecuador who created the majority of the chances during the game. The La Tri managed to double their lead just 10 minutes after Valencia’s goal, and went on to score two more in the second half to make it 4-0.
As Haiti were staring at a drought at this point, Ecuador were more or less guaranteed of a place in the quarter finals as even a draw between Brazil and Peru game would not be able to eliminate them.
Brazil 0-1 Peru
With Ecuador completing a big win over Haiti, this game instantly became a knockout match between Brazil and Peru. The equation was simple — whoever won the match would go through to the quarter finals. A draw would have worked in Brazil’s favour, as they had the better goal difference.
The Selecao came out all guns blazing in this match as they set out to dominate the play, desperately trying to get the win and secure top position in the group. However, the Peruvian defence stood firm, as they kept thwarting one Brazilian attack after another.
The game was decided in an extremely controversial moment, as second half substitute Raul Ruidiaz seemingly scored with his right hand from an Andy Polo cross. Referee Andres Cunha took around five minutes to decide whether it was a goal or not, while being surrounded by players from both the sides trying to argue their case. Cunha seemed to be waiting for the fourth official’s opinion, despite the fact that video replays are not allowed in football.
After long consultations with his assistants, Cunha awarded the goal as Brazil manager Carlos Dunga and his men vehemently protested against the decision. Replays actually suggested that Ruidiaz had palmed the ball into the goal. However this 75th minute goal was all it took to knock Brazil out of the tournament in the group stages, for the first time in almost three decades.