Hosts Brazil began their Copa America title defence with a comfortable win over Venezuela in the tournament’s opening match.
Brazilian superstar Neymar scored one goal and also picked up an assist as Tite’s side ran eased to victory over a Venezuelan side that was impacted by COVID-19.
Neymar’s Paris Saint-Germain teammate and Brazil captain Marquinhos opened the scoring in the 23rd-minute after Venezuela failed to clear their lines from a corner kick.
The nine-time winners – Brazil – won their first Copa America title in 12 years in 2019 and are one of the favourites to lift this edition’s title as well.
Twelve of Venezuela’s players and coaching staff tested positive for the coronavirus just a day before their opening match in Group A, which also features Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.
Everton forward Richarlison had a first-half goal disallowed for offside and Neymar missed from close range as Brazil initially struggled to put the finishing touches on some golden opportunities.
Neymar scored his 67th international goal from the spot after Yohan Cumana fouled Danilo in the penalty area, but he missed another great chance to move closer to Pele’s national record of 77 goals, shooting wide after breaking through the Venezuela defence in the closing stages of the game.
The PSG forward then rounded goalkeeper Joel Graterol before squaring the ball to substitute Barbosa Almeida in the 89th minute for a simple tap-in.
The 47th edition of the Copa America – delayed by a year because of the coronavirus outbreak – is taking place in Brazil, after Colombia and Argentina were stripped of the rights of hosting the tournament due to civil unrest and pandemic restrictions, respectively.
The South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) removed Colombia as co-hosts in May amid anti-government protests and Argentina were later replaced because of rising COVID-19 cases in the country.
The 2021 Copa America runs until 10 July and features the 10 CONMEBOL nations. It will conclude almost in line with UEFA’s Euro 2020.