Copa America 2016

Dunga thrilled by red-hot Coutinho

Brazil midfielder Philippe Coutinho (centre) opening the floodgates with his first goal during the 7-1 thrashing of Haiti in Group B of the Copa America Centenario.
Brazil midfielder Philippe Coutinho (centre) opening the floodgates with his first goal during the 7-1 thrashing of Haiti in Group B of the Copa America Centenario.PHOTO: REUTERS

ORLANDO (Florida) • Brazil coach Dunga hailed hat-trick hero Philippe Coutinho for delivering his Liverpool club form in national colours, after the playmaker inspired them to a 7-1 rout of Haiti in the Copa America on Wednesday.

Two of Coutinho's goals were beautifully struck long-range efforts and he was a constant threat throughout the game with his movement and ability on the ball.

"We have talked quite a lot to him about being the 'Liverpool Coutinho' - to take the initiative, be a leading part of the team, all within his own style," said Dunga.

"He is really taking advantage of the opportunities he has been given.

"After his first goal you could see him gain confidence and a player with confidence is always going to be better."

Coutinho had previously scored only once for Brazil - last year in a friendly against Mexico.

But it is clear to his team-mates that he is beginning to make a real impression with the national team.

Playing in an advanced role on the left, the 23-year-old linked up well with Atletico Madrid full-back Filipe Luis, who believes they complement each other.

"I think he plays better, close to their defensive line, because he can easily open them up with his dribbling skills," said Luis.

Brazil, who had drawn 0-0 with Ecuador in a lacklustre opening game last weekend, now lead Group B on goal difference, level on four points with Peru, who were held 2-2 by the Ecuadorians in Glendale, Arizona, on Wednesday.

Ecuador frustrated Peru's hopes of sealing their quarter-final berth, fighting back from two goals down.

Brazil now need only a draw against Peru to advance.

In Group C, Uruguay face Venezuela in Philadelphia this morning (Singapore time) aiming to bounce back after suffering defeat by Mexico in their opening match.

But Uruguay will head into the crucial game without Luis Suarez once more as the Barcelona star works his way back from a hamstring injury.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 10, 2016, with the headline 'Dunga thrilled by red-hot Coutinho '. Print Edition | Subscribe