This was a 7-1 scoreline Brazil could enjoy. Two years after their World Cup capitulation against Germany, Brazil crushed Haiti to move top of Copa América Group B, thanks to a brilliant hat-trick from Philippe Coutinho – his first for the national team.
Brazil, who had failed to sparkle in their opening game against Ecuador, were far too strong for Haiti, and in Liverpool forward Coutinho possessed the game’s outstanding player. Brazil’s 7-1 victory represented the biggest win of this Copa América so far, and Dunga, the head coach, was delighted for a player who had scored just once for the seleção before Wednesday night.
“We have been encouraging Coutinho during training to be the player he is in Liverpool, take advantage of his opportunities, and he did that for us,” Dunga said. “He has been acquiring more trust and belief in himself and taking more risks. That is what we wanted.”
Coutinho opened the scoring with a fierce shot in the 14th minute, and Brazil never let up. Coutinho tapped home after a defensive mix-up 15 minutes later, and Renato Augusto made it three shortly afterwards. Haiti looked distinctly second best.
They improved for a short while after the break, but Gabriel, a half-time substitute, slotted home coolly to make it four, and Lucas Lima, who replaced Casemiro, craned his neck to head past Johnny Placide and make it 5-0.
James Marcelin gave the largely pro-Haitian crowd of 28,241 in Orlando something to cheer with a close-range finish after good work from the substitute Duckens Nazon, but then Brazil added two more in the dying minutes: Augusto got his second four minutes from the end, and Coutinho completed his hat-trick with a fine curling shot in stoppage time – arguably the game’s best goal. The Liverpool star’s only previous goal for Brazil was against Mexico in a friendly on 7 June last year.
Dunga was happy with his team’s performance. “It’s not just important for Brazil to win, but for us to be the best players on the field in every game,” he said. “This was a good game. We did many of the things in the game that we worked on in training, but we are always seeking perfection.”
Brazil moved ahead in Group B of Ecuador and Peru, who drew 2-2 on Wednesday night.
Haiti were outclassed, but took their defeat – and subsequent elimination after two straight losses – on the chin. “We knew they were better than us. I’m just happy we scored a goal,” Marcelin said.
Brazil looked much improved from their dreary first game against Ecuador. They play Peru in Gillette Stadium in Foxborough on Sunday, and victory would send them through as group winners.
“We had a good game and are leaving here happy,” Coutinho said. “We have to keep our focus for the next game [against Peru]. We have to be dreaming about big things, but we also have to prepare well for the next game. Peru is a very strong team.”
This article was written by Guardian sport, for theguardian.com on Thursday 9th June 2016 05.43 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010