Vinicius Junior Wakes up Brazil in the Copa America

Vinicius Junior
Vinicius Junior (Credit: Getty Images)

Vinicius Junior decided to carry Brazil on his shoulders and the Canarinho woke up from its lethargy.

The star scored a classic goal to open the scoring and scored almost immediately after an altercation with the rivals, with which Brazil headed for a 4-1 victory over Paraguay on Friday to regain credit in the Copa America.

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In the middle of Vinicius’ double, Savio scored his first goal with the national team and Lucas Paqueta scored the fourth in the complement by converting a penalty after having missed an attempt from 12 steps in the first half.

“I always say that I never play for myself, I play for the team, for Brazil, for my country,” Vinicius said.

The victory at the futuristic Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas left Brazil in second place in Group D by reaching four points, two less than the leader Colombia, which early on secured its qualification for the quarterfinals by beating it 3- 0 to Costa Rica.

Omar Alderete scored shortly after the restart for Paraguay, who were eliminated after suffering their second straight defeat. They ended up with 10 men after the expulsion of Andres Cubas with a direct red card in the 81st minute.

The Brazil-Colombia match in Santa Clara, California, will decide the first of the group. The Brazilians have not yet mathematically confirmed their qualification. Costa Rica, which has one point, is still in the game and will close against Paraguay in Austin, Texas.

At the start, Brazil’s performance seemed to be bogged down mainly by its difficulty in generating harmonious collective play, something that was evident when it was unable to break through Costa Rica’s defensive web in the 0-0 draw in its debut.

Paraguay resisted and had the best chance at the end of the quarter hour with a shot by Damián Bobadilla from outside the area, which goalkeeper Allison Becker took out.

A penalty in the 31st minute, for a handball by Alderete, seemed to be the ideal balm for the Brazilians to relax but Paqueta sent it wide.

When the atmosphere became tense for Brazil, Vinicius decided to take the initiative with the self-confidence that makes him a candidate for the Ballon d’Or after a brilliant season with Real Madrid.

Moments after kicking a sombrero from the left, the forward was the driver of an amazing collective play, which included a double wall of his own, leaving Fabián Balbuena strewn about and finishing with composure in front of the exit of goalkeeper Rodrigo Morinigo.

“Vini has put on a show, with great plays, dynamic, effective, direct, and involved,” said Brazilian coach Dorival Junior. “Everything we expect from these players with unique talent.”

The second goal was not long in coming, with a mix of Paraguayan errors and Brazilian extravaganzas. Starting for the first time with the Selecao, Savinho took advantage of a rebound to celebrate in the 43rd minute.

After a prolonged struggle with several Paraguayans after complaining about a push, Vinicius scored again, capitalizing on an error by Alderete. He thus left with five goals in 32 games with the national team.

With Neymar out with a knee injury, the Copa America in the United States presents itself as the perfect opportunity for Vinicius to step up his game with Canarinho. But he was underwhelmed in his debut and was substituted in the final stretch.

The story was different in the betting capital, with Brazil managing to beat Paraguay for the first time in 23 years in the regular time of a tournament match for the first time since 2001

With each goal, the Brazilian players celebrated with marked zeal, clamoring for the support of a fan base that has become disenchanted with the team due to its poor recent results — they are in an unusual sixth place in the qualifiers for the 2026 World Cup.

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