Brazil 4-1 Paraguay (Jun 28, 2024) Game Analysis

Vinícius Júnior scored two first-half goals to lead Brazil to a 4-1 victory over Paraguay on Friday night and put itself in position to advance out of Group D in the Copa América.

Sávio also scored a first-half goal for Brazil and Lucas Paquetá scored on a penalty kick in the second half. Omar Alderete scored Paraguay’s goal.

There were plenty of tense moments with five yellow cards and a red handed out. Andrés Cubas was sent off for a red card in the 81st minute, forcing Paraguay to play the last part of the match down a man. 

The victory was quite a response for the Seleção, who opened the tournament Tuesday with a scoreless draw against Costa Rica despite outshooting their opponent 18-2. It was also a significant response from Vinícius, after he was criticized following his performance against Costa Rica for failing to reproduce his Real Madrid form for his country.

“I always say that I never play for myself, I will always play for my team,” Vinícius said in an on-field interview following the game. “When I’m playing for Brazil I play for my country, I always try to do the best things but it’s not always possible.

“And today I managed to play a great game at the level of a player that I am. And I know that I can still improve a lot to help the Brazilian team, to help this team that works hard every day to be able to put Brazil in the place it deserves. We will continue to work hard to achieve this goal, which is to win the Copa América.”

Vinícius Júnior answered his critics with two goals in Brazil’s win over Paraguay.

FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images

With four points, Brazil is two behind group leader Colombia, which defeated Costa Rica 3-0 earlier Friday. A victory or tie by Brazil against Colombia on Tuesday ensures one of the group’s two spots in the knockout stage. Brazil also has a six-goal differential advantage over Costa Rica, so a loss likely won’t keep out the nine-time Copa América champions.

Brazil has had its difficulties against Paraguay in Copa América play, having drawn in their previous five meetings. That tied for the second-longest unbeaten streak against Brazil in this tournament, which Paraguay also was part of from 1963-83.

But Brazil won the most recent meeting, defeating Paraguay 4-0 two years ago in World Cup qualifying, and there was little doubt about the outcome of this match after two late goals broke it open in what was a contentious end to the first half.

Moments after teammate Bruno Guimarães hit the crossbar, Sávio put Brazil up 2-0 in the 43rd minute.

Both teams got into a scrum in stoppage time, with Chilean referee Piero Maza Gomez handing yellow cards to Wendell and Balbuena at three-plus minutes. Then Vinícius delivered the crushing blow five minutes into added time

Paraguay had its chances and even outshot Brazil 8-5, including 4-3 on goal. Brazil goalkeeper Alisson Becker made a tremendous save diving to his right to prevent a goal from Damián Bobodilla 15 minutes into the match.

Early in the second half, however, Alderete scored to close the deficit to 3-1.

Then 17 minutes later, Paqueta made up for a missed penalty kick in the first half by converting to give back Brazil its three-goal lead.

Brazil coach Dorival Júnior made a bold and controversial move by deciding not to start Raphinha. The move, with national team legend Neymar watching from the stands, clearly paid off.

Raphinha was a late-game substitute, entering the match at the 72nd minute in place of Sávio.

Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.