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Clean sheet for Alisson as Brazil cruise in bizarre Copa America opener

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Brazil got their Copa America defence underway in winning fashion over Venezuela, with Alisson adding another clean sheet to his name.

The tournament kicked off in front of a backdrop of a worsening health crisis in South America, one that saw Brazil controversially handed hosting duties as Colombia and Argentina were dropped.

And on the eve of the Selecao’s opening fixture, 12 of Venezuela’s players and coaching staff tested positive for COVID-19 to see them draft in 15 new players for the match.

The disruption showed on the pitch as Brazil comfortably dominated proceedings, which took place behind closed doors.

Alisson was the sole Red to feature from the start while both Fabinho and Roberto Firmino were named among the substitutes, and the No. 1 experienced a relatively quiet evening between the sticks.

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Venezuela would land just one shot on target and three in total throughout the 90 minutes while Brazil successfully converted on three occasions.

Marquinhos would open the scoring from close range to reflect Brazil’s dominance on the scoreboard after Richarlison had a goal ruled out for offside and a miss from Neymar.

But the latter would strike from the penalty spot in the 64th minute to move within 10 of Pele’s national scoring record of 77, while Gabriel Barbosa added the finishing touches in the 89th minute.

Fabinho was on the field for the latter after being introduced in the 85th minute, replacing Fred, but it was another night on the bench for Firmino at international level.

Tite instead opted for Gabriel Jesus, Richarlison and Neymar in the XI before turning to Barbosa and Vinicius Jr as two of his five substitutions on the night.

For those of the Liverpool persuasion, rest will be welcomed for the No. 9 but with Brazil’s hopes of progressing deep into the tournament, he will no doubt be turned to in the weeks to come.

The Selecao now have a four-day break before they meet Peru in their next group game, one that will be their competition opener. Kick-off in the UK is at 1am (BST) on Friday.

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