Orlando: Philippe Coutinho struck a hat-trick and Renato Augusto scored twice as Brazil crushed Haiti 7-1 in their Copa America Centenario Group B match at the Citrus Bowl on Wednesday.
The result moves Brazil to four points from two games after they were held to a goalless draw in their opener against Ecuador. The five-times world champions will complete their group stage against Peru on Sunday.
For Haiti, playing in their first Copa America and their first ever competitive game against the Selecao, a memorable occasion turned into a long night where they were simply unable to match their opponents.
The Brazilians took control from the outset with their Caribbean opponents struggling to close down and limit their passing and movement. Coutinho went close in the sixth minute when he cut in from the left and his low shot forced Johny Placide into a low save.
Real Madrid midfielder Casemiro then saw a dangerous long-range drive deflected just wide as Brazil began to pile on the pressure. Coutinho finally got the breakthrough in the 14th minute and in spectacular fashion. Filipe Luiz found the Liverpool forward with plenty of space, with the Haiti defence fatally allowing him to turn and unleash an unstoppable 20-yard drive.
Fifteen minutes later, Coutinho struck again, this time in much more straightforward fashion when Dani Alves crossed from the right. Jonas held off two defenders and was able to slip the ball into the path of the 23-year-old who slotted home from close range.
Brazil were enjoying themselves with Willian rampaging forward and the midfield moving the ball around with ease. Haiti had their moments of positive play as well, but it was their defending and lack of solidity in midfield that left them too often chasing shadows.
The last thing French coach Patrice Neveu's side needed was to gift the Brazilians a goal, but that is what they did in the 35th minute when keeper Placide gifted possession to Alves, who crossed for Augusto to head home.
Gabriel Barbosa, a half-time substitute for Jonas, made it 4-0 in the 59th minute with a precise left-foot finish after Elias had broken from midfield and fed him a pinpoint through ball.
Another substitute Lucas Lima headed in Dani Alves' cross for the fifth in the 67th minute, back-pedalling slightly before getting good power and precision to head past Placide.
Haiti's fans finally had something to cheer though in the 70th minute when Max Hilaire's low shot was parried out by Alisson and James Marcelin coolly converted with a side-foot finish to the delight of the thousands of Haitian fans.
At the other end, Placide made up for his earlier error with a brilliant diving save to keep out a blistering Willian shot that was heading into the top corner. Augusto added the sixth when he picked up a loose pass in midfield and marched through alone before driving past Placide and there was still time for Coutinho to complete his hat-trick with a beautiful curling shot from 25 yards out in the final moments.
First Published On : Jun 9, 2016 08:39 IST