MNA Sports Desk: A controversial refereeing decision spared Brazil’s blushes at the Copa America Centenario on Saturday as the five-time world champions opened their campaign with a goalless draw against Ecuador.
Ecuador looked to have taken a sensational lead at the Pasadena Rose Bowl midway through the second half when Brazil goalkeeper Alisson fumbled a cross from Miller Bolanos into his own net as he stooped to gather at the near post.
But as Ecuador bench and players celebrated, the match officials whistled for a goal kick, after ruling that the ball had gone out of play shortly before Bolanos crossed into the six-yard box.
Replays of the incident appeared to suggest the ball was fractionally still in play and that Brazil had been saved from a losing start to Group B by an officiating error.
Brazil’s players left the field to scattered boos from the 53,158 crowd at the Rose Bowl, scene of the South American giants’ 1994 World Cup final triumph.
“I saw it 25 times on video just now and the ball never went out completely maybe 65 percent but not completely,” said Ecuador head coach Gustavo Quinteros.
“The linesman is so sure of himself even though he is 50 metres away,” the Bolivian complained.
Brazil’s manager Dunga said he hadn’t been close enough to judge whether the goal should have been allowed.
Peru goes down Haiti
Peru striker Paolo Guerrero overtook Teofilo Cubillas as his country’s top goal scorer, scoring a diving header to sink Haiti 1-0 in their Copa America Centenario clash.
Peru’s Paolo Guerrero scores against Haiti during the Copa America Centenario, to win the match and become his country’s top goal scorer
Guerrero, a talismanic figure for the Peruvians who was tournament top scorer in both the 2011 and 2015 editions of the Copa America, pounced on 61 minutes to break Haiti’s resistance.
The 32-year-old striker, who now plays for Flamengo in Brazil, powered home a header Edison Flores’ cross as Peru opened their Group B campaign with a win at Seattle’s Century Link Field, home of the Seattle Seahawks NFL team.
The win was just about deserved for Peru, who created the better chances but struggled to break down a well-organized Haiti defense.
After a slow start, Peru could have taken the lead on the stroke of half-time when Guerrero headed into the path of Flores.
Flores burst onto the ball and unleashed a fierce shot which cannoned back off the foot of the upright as Haiti escaped.
Peru increased the tempo in the second half and only a fine block by Haiti goalkeeper and captain Johny Placide denied Renzo Revoredo in the 59th minute.
That chance should have served as a warning for Haiti, but two minutes later Peru took the lead with Guerrero’s goal when Flores found space down the left and curled in an inviting cross for the former Bayern Munich player to head home.
Peru looked to be cruising to three points but had a scare in the dying seconds when Haiti’s Kervens Belfort somehow headed wide from close range with the goal at his mercy.