How Brazil Lost To Peru At Gillette Stadium, Flamed Out Of Copa America 2016


June 12, 2016

FOXBORO, Mass. — The biggest of controversies cost Brazil its life at Copa America 2016.

Peru defeated Brazil 1-0 on Sunday at Gillette Stadium, leap-frogging the soccer giant into second place in Group B at Copa America 2016. The result gave Peru a place in the quarterfinal and sent Brazil out of the tournament in a flash.

The result will surprise most, but the circumstances are even more shocking than the outcome. Peru’s Raul Ruidiaz used his hand to score the winning goal in the 75th minute, but referee Andres Cunha and his assistants inexplicably missed the infraction and awarded Peru the most dubious, and important, goal of the tournament to date.

Brazil exits Copa America in the group stage for the first time since 1987.

Peru celebrates its Copa America progression and undoubtedly hopes history will repeat itself.

Here’s how Peru shocked New England, Brazil and the rest of the soccer world.

All Brazil until Peru surged
Brazil dominated play in the first half but failed to translate its 65 percent advantage in possession into clear-cut chances and goals. Brazil registered just two shots on goal in the first half. Peru’s Pedro Gallese saved both, denying Gabriel and keeping his team in the game against a superior opponent.

Peru played Brazil evenly for much of the second half, defending solidly and causing danger on the counter-attack. Peru was in full flow when Ruidiaz scored the controversial winner.

Brazil tried to impose its way to an equalizer in the final 15 minutes, but the New England night belonged to Peru.

Brazil’s lack of world-class players ultimately proved costly. Dani Alves, Felipe Luis, Lucas and Marquinhos were the only players on Dunga’s roster who played for clubs that reached at least the quarterfinal of the UEFA Champions League this season. All but Lucas are defenders.

Brazil desperately needs a top-quality creative influence in central midfield to unlock compact, deep-sitting defenses and provide service to the Neymars and Hulks of the world. Lucas Lima wore Brazil’s the No. 10 jersey at Copa America, but his inability to register a goal or assist in three games is telling.

The have-nots of the soccer world are improving at a faster rate than the haves are. Difference-makers are more important now than ever, and Brazil saved Neymar for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, while Douglas Costa missed Copa America due to injury.

No penalties given
Ruidiaz’s goal was only one of several of Cunha’s curious decisions. The first half contained at least four penalty appeals, but the official denied them all.


Peru’s Edison Flores had the best of them in the 44th minute, but Cunha spared Brazil’s Renato Augusto from infamy. Perhaps Cunha figured he’d do the job himself.

Midfield control and belief
Peru midfielders Oscar Vilchez and Adan Balbin were impressive in the second half, breaking up plays and sparking counter-attacks from deep-lying positions. Vilchez and Balbin play domestically in Peru — for Alianza Lima and Universitario, respectively. Their reputations might be modest compared to Brazil counterparts Willian, Philippe Coutinho and Lucas Lima, but their performances in the fateful second half should put their names in lights.

The fuss over “Gabigol”
Gabriel, or “Gabigol,” as they call him in Brazil, is supposed to be the proverbial “next big thing” to come off his country’s talent-production line. The 19-year-old forward made his first-ever start for Brazil, having made three previous appearances as a substitute.

Brazil-Peru marked our first time watching him play live. Our verdict: Work in progress.

Gagriel has good physique, skills and attacking instincts, but a cold-blooded finisher he might not be. Gallesse did well to save both his best chances, in the 27th and 40th minutes.

Gabriel was quiet and anonymous in second half, as Peru’s influence on the game waxed and his waned.

He could become a great player one day, but the Santos star is no Neymar, Robinho or Pele, for that matter.

At least not yet.

Review our Brazil-Peru live blog >>

Thumbnail photo via Jun 12, 2016; Foxborough, MA, USA; Brazil midfielder Elias (8) is stopped by Peru goalkeeper Pedro Gallese (1) as Peru defender Christian Ramos (15) looks on during the second half of Peru's 1-0 win over Brazil in the group play stage of the 2016 Copa America Centenario. at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
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