Brazil held by Ecuador in Copa America opener


PASADENA: Brazil showed touches of magic but a lack of killer intinct as they were held to a 0-0 draw by Ecuador in their Copa America Group B opener on Saturday.

Despite seeing their team force chance after chance the Selecao traveling support had to settle for a single point as the eight-time champions lost momentum in the second half at Pasadena’s Rose Bowl.

The game began at an intense tempo with a flurry of chances at either end in front of a disappointing crowd of 53,158 which filled just over half of the stadium, the venue of Brazil’s 1994 World Cup final victory over Italy.

Both teams had been prepared for intense heat but southern California’s searing daytime temperatures had cooled by kick-off to a merciful 78 degrees fahrenheit (26 degrees celsius).

Brazil were without several first choice players, most notably their talismanic captain Neymar, and they were clearly missing the Barcelona forward’s bite.

The most clear-cut opportunities fell at either end of the match to Liverpool midfielder Philippe Coutinho, who forced a corner from close, and Paris St Germain winger Lucas Lima, whose glancing header couldn’t find the target.

Brazil began to take control halfway through the first half  as the  pace inevitably dropped, with Coutinho and Felipe Luis getting plenty of room down the left and Willian’s pace forcing the aging Walter Ayovi to drop increasingly deeper.