Brazil dominated their second group fixture, against Honduras, but it took two goals in the final twenty-five minutes to secure the victory as the Seleção failed to take a number of chances throughout the game.
vs Honduras (24/06/2023)
Christian Schäfer made two changes to the side that defeated Peru, with Fabinho and Casemiro coming in to replace Bruno Paulista and Mosca in midfield. Otherwise, it was an unchanged line-up as Der Professor looked to mark his tenth game in charge of Brazil since taking over with a win.
The first chance of the match presented itself to Marquinhos. Brazil's infamous short-corner routine involving Neymar and Oscar caught out the Honduras defence, and the latter picked out Marquinhos at the near post but his half-volley was blocked by the out-rushing defender Ricardo López.
Brazil captain Neymar very nearly opened the scoring on the quarter-hour mark with an outstanding effort. Hulk had begun the game like a man possessed, and his cross was flicked on by Oscar to Neymar, who's acrobatic volley clattered off the crossbar. The Barcelona star had his hands on his head, knowing he had just come within inches of scoring the opener.
Another chance went begging for Neymar, Oscar and Brazil, this time in even more outstanding circumstances. Hulk had cut in from the right-hand side to tee up Neymar, who's first-time shot from the edge of the area cracked off the crossbar, once again. The ball fell kindly to Oscar who scored an easy finish, only to see that the assistant referee had raised his flag. Oscar had drifted offside as Neymar unleashed his woodwork-bound effort. So close, yet so far, for the Seleção.
Honduras were reduced to ten men in the second half as Julio Castillo was penilised for a two-footed challenge on Neymar. The referee did not hesitate to produce the red card, punishing the Honduran for his error. This left the game even more open for Brazil, with the game still somehow without a goal.
The woodwork was struck a third time moments later, with Neymar at the heart of the move once more. The Brazilian skipper found Cebolinha twenty yards out and the in-form striker's rasping effort beat Alberth Ramos in the Honduras goals, only to meet the crossbar and bounce clear.
Brazil did eventually break the deadlock, with just under twenty-five minutes remaining, and it was Cebolinha who found the back of the net. Hulk, who had been playing the game of his career, beat his marker on the right wing before crossing low in to the six yard box. Cebolinha broke free of the defenders to smash a volley past Alberth Ramos to claim his first competitive goal for Brazil.
Brazil very nearly doubled their lead minutes later as the ball found its way to Jorge inside the box but the left wing-back's effort was excellently denied by Alberth Ramos, who had rushed from one side of the goal to the other in a desperate attempt to keep his side in the game.
It was set-piece magic which saw Brazil claim their second of the game, with both Neymar and Cebolinha involved. Honduras had finally copped on to Brazil's short-corner strategy, forcing Neymar in to a deep cross from the set-piece. Cebolinha powered a header at goal and Ronaldo was on hand to re-direct the ball past the goalkeeper and in to the top corner, securing all three points for Brazil.
Hulk (Brazil) 9.0
Christian Schäfer's Post-Match Interview:
"Everybody could see just how much we dominated the game. We were a little unfortunate that the woodwork produced three fine saves to deny us even more goals but we came out with all three points, and a clean sheet to boast on top of that. We need to improve on taking our chances because we will not always get as many as we have today. But it is still early days and we can be proud of how far we have come so far."
Copa América Group B
Two wins from two sees Brazil climb to the top of the table. Colombia's draw with Peru means Brazil have already qualified for the quarter finals with one game to spare. There may be some changes to the starting line-up ahead of the final group match, in order to keep players fresh for the next round.