Brazil reached the finals of the Copa America after a 1-0 win over Peru through Lucas Paqueta’s 35th minute strike, which was the sole goal of the game and his second in the tournament.
Brazil has won the Copa America every time it hosted the tournament and in the early part of Monday’s match showed exactly why it is favourites to do so again.
Within the first 20 minutes, Peru goalkeeper Pedro Gallese made two point-blank saves in succession from Neymar and Richarlison plus another two blocks when Casemiro tried his luck from further out.
It took Brazil 35 minutes to break the deadlock when Neymar beat three men on the left and clipped the ball across the goal for Paqueta to volley home from 10 metres.
GOLAÇO! Lucas Paquetá recebe de Neymar e coloca a bola no fundo da rede para abrir o placar! 1×0 @cbf_futebol
— Copa América (@CopaAmerica) July 5, 2021
“It was a very tough game, very hard-fought,” Paqueta said. “They are a very strong side but we managed to make it through a difficult spell.”
Neymar was quick to sing his teammate’s praises and said there was more to come. “Paqueta is a great player, he’s getting better with each game,” he added. “He had a great season with his club and here he is showing that he can be a very important player for Brazil.”
Neymar’s performance against Peru was no surprise as he lived up to his expectations and clinched the Man of the Match award.
Peru pinned Brazil back for long spells of the second half but could not make its possession count as the home side extended its unbeaten run to 13 games.
The host nation will play the winner of Tuesday’s other semi-final between Argentina and Colombia in the title decider at the Maracana stadium next Saturday.