Thursday, June 9, 2016

Copa America Centenario Day 6: Brazil hammer Haiti into elimination

Brazil 7-1 Haiti
After looking somewhat lethargic against Ecuador in their opener, Brazil ran into a Haiti squad that lacks anything resembling the skill necessary to take down even a weak Brazil side. While Brazil tried to force things to happen in the first ten minutes, they slowed down slightly afterwards and were gifted with their first goal of the tournament in the 14th minute. Philippe Coutinho launched a rocket from just outside the 18 that blew by a diving keeper and barely inside the near post. They experienced a wealth of chances after going in front. They probably could have had four or five by halftime, but they had to settle for only two more. Coutinho tapped into an empty net for his second goal amidst some absentee Haitian defending in the 29th minute. It went to 3-0 at the 35 minute mark when Haiti failed to clear and proceeded to leave Renato Augusto wide open for an easy header.

The carnage continued in the second half. Brazil put four more in as they toyed with their lesser opponents. Gabriel started it in the 59th. Lucas Lima scored the fifth in the 67th. Augusto bagged his brace in the 86th, and Coutinho capped it off with his hat trick in stoppage time. Haiti had one moment to celebrate and that was James Marcelin's 70th minute goal that would be their first ever in Copa America.

Regardless, Haiti are eliminated and Brazil are atop the group thanks to their gargantuan goal differential.

Ecuador 2-2 Peru
As underdogs in this group Peru needed to come out and play like they had nothing to lose. They did just that and were rewarded with a fifth minute goal from Christian Cueva. They didn't stop the early barrage there, either. The lead was doubled in the 13th minute by Edison Flores. Ecuador would chip away at this unexpected deficit. Enner Valencia would cut into the lead in the 39th. They would equalize with a tap in from Miller Bolanos in the 48th minute.

Even before the score was tied, it was quite clear Ecuador was the better team. They were quicker and more effective with the ball than Peru was. They peppered Pedro Gallese's goal with plenty of shots on the night overall, but nothing after the original two goals were able to penetrate the net. Peru almost stole the match in the dying minutes when a counter attack gave Raul Ruidiaz a shot at the top of the box. He hammered it past the keeper, but just wide of the far post. Shortly afterwards. Gabriel Achilier was sent off for a second yellow, but it had no effect on the end result here. It will likely not come into play against Haiti in the final group stage game either, since Haiti have clearly shown their inferiority to the rest of this group.

As a result of today's action, Brazil is ahead of Peru on goal difference with both sides holding four points. The two play each other in the group stage finale on Sunday in Foxborough, Massachusetts. Ecuador is sitting in second place. They would go through with three points against eliminated Haiti on Sunday in New Jersey and a winner in the Brazil-Peru match. It doesn't matter which side wins, as long as it doesn't end in a draw. If it does, goal difference will determine who makes it. Brazil currently leads that race with +6 while both Peru is +1 and Ecuador is at 0.

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