Luis Abram was the hero as Peru exacted some revenge over Brazil with a 1-0 victory in a rematch of the Copa America final. Brazil claimed its ninth Copa America title by beating Peru 3-1 in South America's showpiece tournament decider in July.
But defender Abram's 85th-minute header saw Peru past Brazil in Los Angeles on Tuesday, while condemning the Selecao to its first defeat since the 2018 World Cup. Neymar started on the bench as Tite made four changes to his line-up that drew 2-2 against Colombia, with David Neres, Eder Militao and Allan coming in for the PSG star, Dani Alves, Thiago Silva and Arthur.
It was a scrappy match on a pitch that still showed the marks of American football in Los Angeles, where NFL franchise the Rams and the NCAA's USC Trojans are tenants. While there was plenty of energy and endeavour from Peru, chances were few and far between in the first half – Edison Flores' volley in the 23rd minute the closest either team went to breaking the deadlock.
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After Neres went down inside the area under a risky challenge from captain Luis Advincula amid appeals for a penalty, Flores then produced an instinctive volley to force Brazil goalkeeper Ederson into a save. There was a nasty clash of heads between Brazil team-mates Casemiro and Neres just past the half-hour mark, but both players managed to play on.
Pedro Gallese came to Peru's rescue four minutes into the second half. Richarlison played a delightful through ball to Allan but the goalkeeper was quick off his mark to deny the Brazil midfielder his first international goal. A drilled effort from Philippe Coutinho caused problems for Gallese just past the hour-mark before Neymar's introduction, and while the latter provided some spark, there was to be no breakthrough for Brazil.
Just as the match looked to be petering out for a draw, a delightful free-kick from Yoshimar Yotun picked out Abram, whose deft touch beat Ederson and found the back of the net.
- What does it mean? Peru end Brazil's unbeaten run -
Since losing to Belgium in the World Cup quarterfinals last year, Brazil had gone 17 matches without defeat. However, that impressive run came to a shock end in LA.
- Abram opens account in style -
Making his 17th appearance, Abram emerged the unlikely hero for Peru. His late header not only silenced Brazil but saw the 23-year-old celebrate his first international goal.
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- Neymar poised for Selecao century -
After marking his first appearance back with a goal and an assist against Colombia last time out, Neymar was a second-half substitute in LA. The 27-year-old's appearance, though, was his 99th on the international stage – moving him clear of Ronaldo and Djalma Santos for seventh in the all-time Brazil standings, still well adrift of Cafu's appearance record of 142.
- Fagner: Brazil hoping to grow from first defeat since World Cup -
Fagner called on Brazil to learn from Tuesday's defeat to Peru, although both he and Marquinhos criticised the LA Memorial Coliseum pitch. Brazil was beaten for the first time since its 2018 World Cup reverse to Belgium, ending a 17-match unbeaten run, as it lost 1-0 to a late Luis Abram goal.
But Fagner insists the South American champion never questioned the threat of its opponent, which it defeated in the Copa America final. The right-back, who started, with Dani Alves on the bench, hoped Brazil would be able to grow from a rare loss.
"We know the strength of South American football. There is no poor team," Fagner told TV Globo. "We played a consistent game and created chances to score. We were penalised by a set-piece at the end of the game. We need to grow and mature as soon as possible with these types of games to improve for the World Cup qualifiers."
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"These games have to make us grow as a team. We know the importance of winning, of working calmly towards victory. But we also know that defeats can happen. This has to make us grow." Fagner added the firm pitch in Los Angeles, used to hosting American football games, "undoubtedly" contributed to the defeat, and team-mate Marquinhos concurred.
"I think it was a very close game. We came from two good games against them and good results," Marquinhos said. "We knew they would come for the result and they did what they had to do. The pitch didn't help much. The ball bounced a lot. We tried to force passes through the middle, but both teams misplaced a lot. We knew it was a one-goal game and they were happy from set-pieces."
- What's next? -
Brazil will return to action in October with a friendly against Thailand in Singapore and another fixture that is yet to be determined. Peru, meanwhile, is set to take on Uruguay in a pair of friendlies next month.