Jesus and Firmino send Brazil into Copa America final against unlucky Argentina
Brazil are through to the Copa America final after defeating Argentina 2-0 on home turf thanks to strikes from Gabriel Jesus and Roberto Firmino. Both teams had periods of dominance, but the game was decided by who was the more clinical.
The home side started the game brightly and clearly had the upper hand in the opening 10-15 minutes with good possession and territory without troubling goalkeeper Franco Armani. Despite that, Paredes gave Brazil a fright with a 40 yard effort which went just over the crossbar. Seconds later, the game saw Coutinho and Paredes come face to face after the former prevented Argentina taking a quick free kick and then in the 17th minute, Jesus was through on the goal, but he took too long to decide what to do. Two minutes later though, he would give Brazil the lead.
Otamendi was dispossessed by Alves in his own half, he then beat Acuna to a 50:50 ball before making a run down the near side and finding Firmino. The Liverpool man then finished off the move with a lovely square pass for Gabriel Jesus to hit home. Despite having only 39% of the possession, Argentina had picked up from their slow start before that goal. Argentina were undeterred though and threatened the Brazil goal several times in the next fifteen minutes.
Aguero hit the crossbar after 30 minutes when he got on the end of a Messi free-kick before Thiago Silva cleared away the rebound. Messi and Aguero then teamed up six minutes later before Marquinhos made a vital block to prevent Aguero from scoring and then Messi hit an effort from outside the box as he slipped.
Argentina continued to attack and the final five or ten minutes of the first period became open and even. Arthur hit at Armani just before half-time and the game was being played at a fast tempo.
After the interval, Argentina came out with purpose. Tagliafico forced Jesus to head away a dangerous ball into the box and then in the 49th minute, Lautaro Martinez tested Alisson after good build up play including Sergio Aguero and just three minutes later, De Paul should have really done better with his effort. It flew over the crossbar after Aguero beat two defenders and Lautaro and Messi then played one touch football before the ball reached De Paul. After all these good chances, Argentina would once again be denied by the woodwork in the 57th minute.
Lautaro Martinez went for goal from 30 yards out, but saw his effort blocked by Thiago Silva, the ball broke fortuitously to Lionel Messi who saw his shot cannon off the right hand upright. They fully deserved to be level, but they were just a combination of wasteful and unlucky. Messi then forced Alisson into a regulation save in the 66th minute, but as Argentina upped the pressure, Brazil caught them on the counter 19 minutes from time.
Messi looked for Aguero inside the Brazil area, but he ran into traffic and was actually fouled in the box, Jesus sprinted down the field beating Otamendi and Foyth amongst others before squaring perfectly for Roberto Firmino to tap into the net and knock the stuffing out of an Argentina side which could not bounce back from this second blow.
The rest of the game was uneventful as frustration got the better of Argentina including Lautaro Martinez who had a spat with Firmino and Aguero who threw the ball down in disgust after fouling Alves. Argentina continued to attack and managed to win free-kicks and corners, but they were defended easily by Tite's men. However, Otamendi could have easily got a penalty after he was fouled by Arthur, but nothing was given.
Unlike against Germany at this very venue in an important semi five years ago, this time there was jubilation at the final whistle. Argentina deserved at least to go extra time, but the posts and clinical Brazil finishing were their undoing. Brazil will now host Chile or Peru on Sunday in the final at the Maracana while Argentina will have to participate in the third place play-off the day before.