RIO DE JANEIRO:Â Brazil did not need Neymar to win another Copa America title at home.
With their injured star watching from the stands at a packed MaracanÃ£ Stadium on Sunday, Brazil beat Peru 3-1 to win their first South American title since 2007.
It was Neymarâ€™s replacement, Everton, who led the team to victory, scoring a goal and setting up another to give Brazil their ninth Copa America trophy, and fifth at home.
Gabriel Jesus and Richarlison also scored for Brazil, who have won the title every time they hosted the tournament.
â€œI gave everything I had today,â€ said Everton, who was voted player of the final and also finished as one of the tournamentâ€™s top scorers with three goals.
â€œWho would have thought that Everton would be playing in the final and would be named the man of the match,â€ Brazil coach Tite said.
Neymar, who was ruled out before the tournament because of an ankle injury, sat with his son close to Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro among the crowd of nearly 70,000 at the MaracanÃ£.
â€œNeymar is extraordinary, heâ€™s a top 3 player,â€ Tite said. But â€œwith teamwork we stayed strong.â€
Brazilian fans had some reason to worry after Gabriel Jesus was sent off in the 70th minute because of a second yellow card, but Peru could not pull off one last upset after eliminating Uruguay in the quarterfinals and two-time defending champion Chile in the semifinals.
â€œBrazil deserved the victory,â€ Peru coach Ricardo Gareca said. â€œWe played better than we did in the previous match. We have improved as a team. We still have to improve more, but we are on the right track.â€
Peru, who had been routed 5-0 by Brazil in the group stage and barely avoided early elimination, were trying to win their first Copa America trophy since 1975 and just their second overall. They had not returned to the final since â€˜75.
The victory helped Brazil to regain the confidence of some supporters following their quarterfinal exit at the 2018 World Cup in Russia. It will also ease some of the pressure on coach Tite, who had been criticized for his selections and the teamâ€™s lackluster performances.
Brazil had not made it past the quarterfinals of the Copa America since beating Argentina 3-0 in the 2007 final in Venezuela. They did not even get past the group stage in 2016.
The last time Brazil won the Copa America at home had been in 1989, when Romario scored the winner against Uruguay at the Maracana.
Brazilâ€™s only other trophy since 2007 came in the 2013 Confederations Cup, also at home.
Brazil arrived as a heavy favorite but it was an even match from the start, with the hosts not being able to press too much despite being urged on by most of the crowd at the Maracana.
Everton opened the scoring in the 15th from close range after a well-placed cross by Gabriel Jesus, who made a surging run down the right flank.
â€œIâ€™m happy with the goal and with the penalty in the end,â€ Everton said. â€œI have to thank my teammates for helping me finish as a top scorer.â€
The 23-year-old Everton was elevated to the starting lineup after Neymar was ruled out and his initial substitute, David Neres, struggled in the first couple of matches.
Veteran striker Paolo Guerrero equalized with a 44th-minute penalty after a handball by Brazil defender Thiago Silva. The goal allowed Guerrero to become the Copa Americaâ€™s all-time leading scorer among active players with 14 goals.
It was the only goal conceded by Brazil in six games.
Gabriel Jesus put the hosts ahead again in the third minute of first-half stoppage time with a low shot after an assist from midfielder Arthur.
Peru tried to take control after Gabriel Jesus was sent off for a hard foul on an opponent, but the visitors were not able to create many significant chances.
Brazil sealed victory when Richarlison, who had missed a few matches because of the mumps, converted a penalty kick in the 90th after Everton was fouled.
Both penalty kicks had to be delayed for video reviews. Brazilâ€™s veteran right back Dani Alves was voted the player of the tournament.
Going for goal: Saudi Arabia kicks off first women’s football league
RIYADH: First they opened the grandstands to women, now Saudi Arabia is encouraging them to cross the touchline and compete in the Kingdom’s first Women’s Football League tournament. The historic competition kicks off on Tuesday morning, with 24 teams across Jeddah, Riyadh and Dammam competing for a championship cup, and a $133,000 cash prize. The…
RIYADH: First they opened the grandstands to women, now Saudi Arabia is encouraging them to cross the touchline and compete in the Kingdom’s first Women’s Football League tournament.
The historic competition kicks off on Tuesday morning, with 24 teams across Jeddah, Riyadh and Dammam competing for a championship cup, and a $133,000 cash prize.
The Kingdom opened its stadiums to women football supporters in January, 2018, but this is the first time they will have been allowed to compete in a tournament.
The competition has been lauded as an important step for the Saudi sports world, with many in the game throwing their support behind the event.
Calling the competition a “positive step,” Abdullah Alyami, Saudi football coach and sports reporter, said he expects many more women to participate in future tournaments.
“This is a very happy day for all athletes, be they male or female. And based on what we’ve seen, and how beloved the sport of football is all over the Kingdom, I believe we will see many more of our sisters getting involved in professional sports,” he said.
عبدالله اليامي: انطلاق #الدوري_النسائي في #السعودية خطوة إيجابية.. وأتوقع إقبالا كبيرا على المشاركة في فرق كرة القدم النسائية#تواصل #قناة_الرسالة@m3sss3 pic.twitter.com/UxRa8pZSWo
— قناة الرسالة (@alresalahnet) November 17, 2020
Saudi sports reporter Riyan Al-Jidani tweeted his support.
“To all my dear sisters participating the Women’s Football League, your success in the tournament is a step in the right direction towards our dream of universality and representing our homeland to the outside world. Raising the flag on the field is a glory and pride,” he said.
The tournament was due to start in March – but the coronavirus pandemic stopped play.
But for some that just presented the opportunity to up their game.
“We started preparations early, and the delay due to the pandemic actually worked in our favor. We were able to take more than two months to prepare for the tournament,” Maram Al-Butairi, general manager and head coach at Dammam-based Eastern Flames FC.
Amal Gimie, 26, an Eritrean midfielder for Jeddah’s Kings United, previously told Arab News that she had been playing the beautiful game since she was eight.
“There was a match every weekend. The boys made us play as goalkeepers in the beginning, and in 2002, when I first saw the Women’s World Cup, it sparked my passion to learn more about this sport,” said Gimie, who is also a management information systems graduate. She joined her first female football team, Challenge, in Riyadh in 2014.
She said: “It was the first time I joined something organized. I was happy to be playing but at the same time I felt as though it was an unreachable goal (to become a professional athlete or join an official league), I felt like I was growing older without achieving anything.”
The matches won’t be broadcast, but Saudi’s army of football fans remain excited by the tournament.
Wejdan Al-Shammary, who grew up playing sports in school, said she would have tried for a team “in a heartbeat” if she had been just a few years younger.
“I played both basketball and football on my high school teams. I was a complete sports nut, but it makes me happy to know that even if it’s too late for me to achieve those dreams, there’s a chance now for young Saudi girls that I never had,” she said.
Najla Ahmed, a 16-year-old from Riyadh who plays on her school’s football team, said she would try for a local team in 2021.
“I’ll be 17, and therefore eligible, and I would love to see anyone try and stop me,” she said.
Both women said they hoped this was just the start and that more sports would be opened up to women.
“Football is just the beginning. I would love to see more focus on other sports, as well. Basketball, tennis, maybe even competitive swimming,” said Al-Shammary. “I’m sure we have so many potential Olympians among us who just need their talents nurtured.”
NFL game postponed over Covid-19 cases
Tennessee Titans’ long snapper Beau Brinkley (left) and defensive tackle DaQuan Jones (right) have been put on the reserve/Covid-19 listThe NFL game between the Tennessee Titans and Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday has been postponed because of Covid-19 cases.The game will be rescheduled for Monday or Tuesday after the outbreak among Titans players and staff.On Tuesday,…
Tennessee Titans’ long snapper Beau Brinkley (left) and defensive tackle DaQuan Jones (right) have been put on the reserve/Covid-19 listThe NFL game between the Tennessee Titans and Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday has been postponed because of Covid-19 cases.The game will be rescheduled for Monday or Tuesday after the outbreak among Titans players and staff.On Tuesday, defensive tackle DaQuan Jones, long snapper Beau Brinkley and practice squad tight end Tommy Hudson were put on the reserve/Covid-19 list.The NFL has since shut down the team facility.According to the NFL network, a fourth player also returned a positive test on Wednesday.The Titans played the Minnesota Vikings in Minneapolis last Sunday.The Vikings’ facility was also closed on Tuesday and Wednesday and it is unclear whether their scheduled game with the Houston Texans will take place on Sunday.
Pliskova survives scare at French Open
Karolina Pliskova reached the Italian Open final earlier in SeptemberCzech second seed Karolina Pliskova came from a set down to avoid an upset against Egyptian qualifier Mayar Sherif in the French Open first round.World number four Pliskova, 28, had eight set points in the opener, before losing to Sherif – ranked 172nd in the world…
Karolina Pliskova reached the Italian Open final earlier in SeptemberCzech second seed Karolina Pliskova came from a set down to avoid an upset against Egyptian qualifier Mayar Sherif in the French Open first round.World number four Pliskova, 28, had eight set points in the opener, before losing to Sherif – ranked 172nd in the world – in a tie-break.The 2017 semi-finalist wrapped up a quick second set against the 24-year-old after winning four games in a row.Pliskova came through a tense decider to claim a 6-7 (9-11) 6-2 6-4 victory.”It was super tough,” she said. “Especially after losing the first set after having set points.”She played a great game, especially in these conditions.”Sherif kept up an impressive level throughout and the pair exchanged breaks at the start of the second set.But Pliskova then won four games in a row, eventually holding serve to level things.The Czech was made to work much harder for the final set as she failed to convert five break points before winning the sixth to go 4-3 up.She held serve and wrapped up the match after two hours and 15 minutes with an ace down the middle.Pliskova, who has never won a Grand Slam, will face Latvian world number 43 Jelena Ostapenko in the second round.Live scores, results and order of playAlerts: Get tennis news sent to your phone