Brazil escape with a draw

Brazil midfielder Willian shooting against Ecuador goalkeeper Esteban Dreer in their Copa America Group B opener. The Selecao had nine attempts at goal, with two finding the target. Despite 70 per cent possession, the five-time world champions failed
Brazil midfielder Willian shooting against Ecuador goalkeeper Esteban Dreer in their Copa America Group B opener. The Selecao had nine attempts at goal, with two finding the target. Despite 70 per cent possession, the five-time world champions failed to score at the Pasadena Rose Bowl.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Dubious decision by linesman saves their blushes and denies Ecuador a winning start

LOS ANGELES • A controversial refereeing decision spared Brazil's blushes at the Copa America Centenario on Saturday, as the five-time football world champions opened their campaign with a goal-less draw against Ecuador in Group B.

Ecuador looked to have taken a sensational lead at the Pasadena Rose Bowl midway through the second half, when Brazil goalkeeper Alisson fumbled a cross from Miller Bolanos into his own net as he stooped to gather at the near post.

But as Ecuador's bench and players celebrated, the match officials whistled for a goal kick, after ruling that the ball had gone out of play shortly before Bolanos crossed into the six-yard box.

Replays of the incident appeared to suggest the ball was fractionally still in play and that Brazil had been saved from a losing start by an officiating error.

"I saw it 25 times on video just now and the ball never went out completely - maybe 65 per cent but not completely," said Ecuador coach Gustavo Quinteros.

CONTROVERSIAL CALL

I saw it 25 times on video just now and the ball never went out completely - maybe 65 per cent but not completely. The linesman is so sure of himself even though he is 50 metres away.

GUSTAVO QUINTEROS, Ecuador coach, on their disallowed goal against Brazil.

"The linesman is so sure of himself even though he is 50 metres away," the Bolivian complained.

Brazil manager Dunga said he had not been close enough to judge whether the goal should have been allowed.

"From the angle I was at it was difficult to see if the ball went out," he said.

"The players who were closer said it did."

In the day's other Group B game, Peru got off the mark with a 1-0 victory over Haiti in Seattle, where striker Paolo Guerrero, 32, surpassed Teofilo Cubillas as his country's leading international scorer.

Guerrero, the top scorer in the past two editions of the Copa America, headed home his 27th international goal in the 61st minute at CenturyLink Field.

The win was just about deserved for Peru, who created the better chances but struggled to break down a well-organised Haiti defence.

The Peruvians now face Ecuador on Wednesday while Brazil travel to Florida to play Haiti in Orlando at the Citrus Bowl, the venue for the other game on Saturday, a drab 0-0 draw between Costa Rica and Paraguay in Group A.

The match kicked off in sweltering late afternoon temperatures of around 33 deg C and the energy-sapping conditions contributed to a lacklustre spectacle.

Paraguay's Argentinian coach Ramon Diaz slammed the decision to schedule kick-off at a time when temperatures are known to be at their most fierce.

"It was crazy to play at the time we played," he told a post-game news conference. "I would have liked them (the organisers) to take into consideration the players themselves, they are the main part of the show after all," he added.

Most professional club games held in Florida during the summer, including those of local Major League Soccer team Orlando City, are scheduled for the mid-evening when temperatures have dropped.

Asked if he had ever been involved in a game played in such conditions, Diaz, who performed in Argentina, Italy and Japan during his playing career said: "Never. I really think the players should be respected."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 06, 2016, with the headline 'Brazil escape with a draw'. Print Edition | Subscribe