Coutinho hat-trick as Brazil crush Haiti
Glendale (United States)—Ecuador frustrated Peru’s hopes of sealing their Copa America Centenario quarter-final berth on Wednesday, fighting back from two goals down to snatch a 2-2 draw.
A superb strike from West Ham’s Enner Valencia and a second half effort from Brazil-based midfielder Miller Bolanos completed a gutsy fightback for Ecuador who had earlier gone 2-0 down inside the first 13 minutes.
Peru, who had beaten Haiti in their opening Group B game on Saturday, appeared to be cruising into the last eight after the early efforts from Christian Cueva and Edison Flores.
But Ecuador’s fightback leaves Group B evenly poised heading into the final round of games.
Peru are level with Brazil on four points at the top of the standings but trail with a vastly inferior goal difference after the Brazilians’ 7-1 mauling of Haiti earlier Wednesday.
Peru meet Brazil in their final group game on Sunday. A night that began as a dream come true for Haiti ended as a nightmare as the Caribbean team were crushed 7-1 by Brazil in their Copa America Centenario game on Wednesday.
Haiti has never featured in the Copa America before and never faced Brazil in an official game, and given the huge popularity of Brazilian football on the Caribbean island, the game was one of the biggest in decades for the country. But 3-0 down at half-time against a Brazil team who played with freedom and flair, Haiti were unable to avoid a hefty defeat.
“It was definitely a historic moment but it wasn’t a moment unfortunately that we will want to remember,” said midfielder Jean-Marc Alexandre. “It is a bittersweet moment for us.”
The experienced Alexandre, who plays in the second tier North American Soccer League for Fort Lauderdale Strikers, said he was particularly perturbed by the way the team fell apart later in the game.
“Even at half-time when we were down 3-0 our spirit was still in it. The early goal affected us mentally a bit but even at the break we still had hope,” he said.
“But in the second half I felt like we completely lost control of the game.”
Haiti have been making steady improvement in recent years and they qualified for the Copa America after beating Trinidad and Tobago.
Creditable performances against Spain and Italy in pre-World Cup friendlies two years ago boosted confidence and then an impressive CONCACAF Gold Cup campaign last year, where Haiti reached the quarter-finals, confirmed the steps forward.—AFP