Vinícius Júnior scores two goals as Brazil secures a 4-1 victory over Paraguay in the Copa America group stage

Vinícius Júnior scores two goals as Brazil secures a 4-1 victory over Paraguay in the Copa America group stage

Vinícius Júnior scored two goals in the first half to lead Brazil to a 4-1 victory over Paraguay on Friday evening. This puts the country in a good position to progress to group D in the Copa America.

“Today he played almost a perfect game,” Brazil coach Dorival Júnior said through an interpreter. “He was very dynamic.”

Sávio also scored a goal for Brazil in the first half, while Lucas Paquetá scored from a penalty in the second half. Omar Alderete scored Paraguay’s goal.

The match had some tense moments with five yellow cards and one red card. Andres Cubas was shown a red card in the 81st minute, forcing Paraguay to play the rest of the match with ten players. Yellow cards were given to Brazilian Wendell, Vinícius Júnior and Lucas Paquetá, and to Paraguayan Fabián Balbuena and Hernesto Caballero.

The win was a strong response from the Seleção, who started the tournament with a 0–0 draw against Costa Rica despite dominating with 18 points to the opponent’s 2.

“There was some disappointment with the lack of results in the first match,” Dorival Júnior noted. “But I think our performance was at a high level. We have made significant progress in a short time. We rarely have 20 days to prepare together.”

Brazil is four points behind group leaders Colombia, who beat Costa Rica 3-0 on Friday.

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A win or draw against Colombia on Tuesday will secure one of the group’s two spots for the knockout stages for Brazil. Moreover, Brazil has a six-goal lead over Costa Rica on goal difference, making it likely that the country will progress even with a defeat.

Paraguay, on the other hand, fail to advance to the next round, leading to some heated exchanges between coach Daniel Garnero and reporters who question the team’s continued struggles in the tournament. Although Paraguay have won the Copa America twice, their last title was in 1979.

“There have been many coaches and no one finds the answer,” Garnero said through an interpreter. “You’re talking about a game that just ended. I can’t talk about something that happened a long time ago.”

Brazil have faced challenges against Paraguay in the Copa America matches, with their last five meetings drawn. This streak equals the second-longest undefeated streak against Brazil in this tournament, a record that Paraguay also held from 1963 to 1983.

Brazil won their most recent encounter, however, beating Paraguay 4-0 in World Cup qualifying two years ago. The outcome of this match was never in doubt after two late goals broke the tie open, ending a controversial first half.

Shortly after Bruno Guimarães hit the crossbar, Sávio scored Brazil’s second goal in the 43rd minute.

Vinivuis Junior celebrates with Rodrygo

During stoppage time in the first half, both teams became involved in a scuffle. Referee Piero Maza from Chile gave yellow cards to Wendell and Balbuena during more than three minutes of extra time. Vinícius Júnior then delivered the final blow five minutes after injury time.

Paraguay had chances and even defeated Brazil 8-5, with a 4-3 lead on goal. Brazilian goalkeeper Alisson Becker made a spectacular save by diving to his right to avoid Damián Bobodilla in the 15th minute.

Early in the second half, Alderete scored to reduce the deficit to 3-1. Seventeen minutes later, Lucas Paquetá made up for a missed penalty in the first half by scoring to restore Brazil’s three-goal lead.

“We faced two top teams,” Garnero said, referring to Paraguay’s 2-1 defeat by Colombia in their opening match. “It’s difficult in my position. I see a great effort from the team. They performed well, but we still have to get the results.”

Dorival Júnior made a bold and controversial decision by not starting Raphinha. With national team star Neymar watching from the stands, the move clearly paid off.

Raphinha came on as a substitute in the 72nd minute, replacing Sávio late in the match.