Brazil held to 0-0 draw by Costa Rica in a stunner to open Copa America group play – Metro US

Brazil held to 0-0 draw by Costa Rica in a stunner to open Copa America group play

Copa America Soccer Brazil Costa Rica
Costa Rica’s goalkeeper Patrick Sequeira, right, dives for a shot on goal as Brazil’s Vinicius Junior watches during a Copa America Group D soccer match Monday, June 24, 2024, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

INGLEWOOD, Calif. (AP) — Brazil was held to a 0-0 draw by Costa Rica on Monday night, with the international powerhouse inauspiciously failing to break through offensively in its Copa America opener.

Although Brazil controlled play and outshot Costa Rica 18-2, the Seleção was held scoreless by a defense led by goalkeeper Patrick Sequeira, who made three saves while recording his fourth consecutive clean sheet.

Brazil also had an apparent goal by Marquinhos disallowed in the first half after a lengthy VAR check. The team known for decades of sublime offensive play never got closer to a score — and never got a break on several questionable refereeing calls — in front of a lively crowd of 67,158 dominated by their yellow-clad fans at SoFi Stadium.

The result left Colombia on top of Group D after its 2-1 victory over Paraguay. Brazil has won the Copa America nine times, but its current transitional squad led by Real Madrid stars Vinícius Júnior and Rodrygo got off to a discouraging start.

The draw was a monumental achievement for Costa Rica, the undermanned CONCACAF team with the youngest roster in the tournament but a reputation for overachievement and sturdy defending. Los Ticos had lost nine straight meetings with Brazil.

Brazil controlled from the start with 75% possession in the first half.

Vinícius was taken down in the box in the 22nd minute by a big hit from Haxzel Quirós, but got no whistle.

In the 30th minute, Rodrygo went low to head on Raphinha’s free kick to Marquinhos, who banged it home at the far post. A 3 1/2-minute VAR review followed, and Mexican referee César Ramos eventually agreed with the assistant’s decision to wave it off for offside by a minuscule margin.

In the 39th minute, a kick by Lucas Paquetá appeared to go off a hand of Juan Pablo Vargas in the penalty area but Ramos made no call.

Paquetá ripped a shot off the post in the 63rd minute. Costa Rica then survived when Haxzel Quirós nearly headed the ball into his own net before Sequeira smothered it.

Costa Rica survived a few more moments of chaos beginning in the 86th minute, with Rodrygo failing to capitalize on a pair of scoring chances and not getting a foul call against Jeyland Mitchell in the box.

Bruno Guimarães then had a clean look at the net in the first minute of injury time, but pushed it just wide.

Brazil’s national team is in a transitional period — particularly without Neymar, who hasn’t played since tearing a knee ligament in a match for Brazil last October. Neymar spoke to team Sunday before watching the match at SoFi Stadium, where he got massive cheers in the second half when his worried face appeared on the scoreboard.

AP soccer: https://apnews.com/soccer