Neymar headlines Brazil’s easy win

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Star forward Neymar netted a penalty and created a second as hosts Brazil eased to a 3-0 victory over a coronavirus-depleted Venezuela on Sunday in the opening match of the 2021 Copa America.

Centre-back Marquinhos opened the scoring midway through the first half and Gabriel sealed the win a minute from time.

Played in front of an empty Mane Garrincha stadium in Brasilia due to COVID-19 restrictions, Brazil made light of the continent’s minnows, who arrived with a makeshift side missing at least eight players who were ruled out after testing positive for coronavirus the day before.

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Venezuela called up 15 emergency replacements but could still only name seven out of a possible 12 substitutes due to a lack of available players.

The game went ahead and, predictably, reigning champion Brazil was well on top.

In Cuiaba, a surprising choreographed move gave Colombia a 1-0 win against Ecuador in its first match.

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Edwin Cardona scored the winner at the Arena Pantanal in the 42nd minute of a tense game on Sunday.

The decisive moment started when midfielder Cardona took a free kick close to the edge of the Ecuadorian penalty box. Instead of shooting, he exchanged three short passes with Juan Guillermo Cuadrado, who moved the ball forward to where Miguel Borja was waiting.

Borja headed the ball back to Cardona, who had run toward goalkeeper Pedro Ortiz and who scored with a right-foot shot as the Ecuadorian defenders watched on. The move had to be validated by video review.

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The results: Brazil 3 (Marquinhos 23, Neymar 64-pen, Gabriel Barbosa 89) bt Venezuela 0; Colombia 1 (Cardona 42) bt Ecuador 0.

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