FOXBOROUGH (Massachusetts) • The Copa America Centenario erupted into controversy on Sunday, after a refereeing blunder sent Brazil crashing to a 1-0 defeat by Peru - and out of the tournament.
The defeat left Brazil struggling to digest their worst performance in the Copa since 1987, the last occasion the five-time world football champions failed to make it past the group stage.
Brazil, needing only a draw to qualify for the quarter-finals as winners of Group B, looked to be on course for a place in the last eight with 15 minutes to go.
But a rare foray into Brazilian territory by Peru ended with Raul Ruidiaz bundling in Andy Polo's cross from the byeline, appearing to use his arm to score.
The Brazil players protested furiously, swarming around Uruguayan referee Andres Cunha in a bid to persuade him to reverse his decision to allow the goal.
It appeared to have swayed Cunha, who looked to be frantically checking with the fourth official via his headpiece to determine whether the goal should stand.
Yet, after a chaotic delay of four minutes - with players from both sides surrounding the referee - Cunha ruled the goal should stand. Replays from different angles, however, showed that Ruidiaz had used his arm to knock the ball into the net past Brazil goalkeeper Alisson.
Brazil pressed forward in the closing minutes in an attempt to find an equaliser that would take them through but it was to no avail.
Elias squandered a golden chance from close range in injury time and Brazil's fate was sealed. Peru will now play Colombia in the quarter-finals after finishing top of Group B.
Brazil coach Dunga lambasted the decision to allow Peru's goal.
"I am sure the Brazilian fans saw the game and saw how Brazil were eliminated," he said. "There is no way to anticipate imponderables. The team were not eliminated by anything to do with football.
"It was such a clear handball, but we have no influence over the referee."
Peru coach Ricardo Gareca insisted his side had deserved to win.
"I thought we did enough to deserve to win," he said, adding that he did not have a clear view of the hand-ball incident. "I haven't seen it yet. I've heard some comments. But I never think too much about mistakes by officials."
The early exit is certain to pile pressure on Dunga after what was a lacklustre tournament.
The Selecao, desperate to begin the road to recovery after their humiliating 7-1 defeat by Germany in the World Cup semi-finals two years ago, were never convincing at any point of the group stage.
A 0-0 opening draw with Ecuador - where a refereeing decision which might have given Ecuador a victory went in Brazil's favour - was followed by a 7-1 drubbing of Haiti, arguably the weakest team in the tournament.
Another drab display against Peru followed on Sunday, with Dunga's side barely getting a shot on goal in the first half, with the exception of one by Gabriel in the 26th minute that was tipped away by Peru goalkeeper Pedro Gallese.
"I am only afraid of death, I am not afraid of that (unemployment)," Dunga said when asked if he feared losing his job.
The 52-year-old emphasised that Brazil's long-term rebuilding job would take time. "There are no quick fixes," he said. "In Brazil we want everything to be changed easily in two minutes.
"Now we are in a period of transition and we have to be patient."
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS