Coutinho hat-trick studs Brazil's big victory

Coutinho hat-trick studs Brazil's big victory

Football Copa America Centenario

Coutinho hat-trick studs Brazil's big victory

Philippe Coutinho struck a hat-trick as Brazil routed Haiti 7-1 at the Copa America Centenario while Ecuador produced a gutsy fightback to thwart Peru’s push for a quarterfinal berth.

Coutinho conjured up the sort of form which made him one of Liverpool’s most potent attackers in the Premier League last season as the Brazilians outclassed Haiti in the first ever competitive meeting of the two nations.

The 23-year-old attacking midfielder grabbed his first two goals inside the first half hour of a one-sided Group B game at Orlando’s Citrus Bowl in Florida. Coutinho then grabbed his third in the dying seconds of injury time, curling in a spectacular shot to complete a fine night’s work.

Brazil, who had drawn 0-0 with Ecuador in a lackustre opening game last weekend, now lead Group B on goal difference, level on four points with Peru, who were held 2-2 by the Ecuadorans elsewhere on Wednesday.

Brazil’s other goals came from Renato Augusto (2), teenage star Gabriel Barbosa and Lucas Lima.

The goal-feast was a welcome return to potency for Brazil’s attack against admittedly feeble opposition.

Defender Filipe Luis however cautioned that Brazil would face a sterner challenge against Peru in their final Group B game at Foxborough’s Gillette Stadium on Sunday.

Ecuador hold Peru

Elsewhere on Wednesday, Ecuador frustrated Peru’s hopes of sealing their quarterfinal berth, fighting back from two goals down to snatch a 2-2 draw in Glendale, Arizona.

A superb individual strike from West Ham’s Enner Valencia and a second half effort from Brazil-based midfielder Miller Bolanos completed Ecuador’s comeback. The Ecuadorans had earlier been left reeling after falling 2-0 down inside the first 13 minutes.

Peru, who had beaten Haiti in their opening game on Saturday, appeared to be cruising into the last eight after the early efforts from Christian Cueva and Edison Flores.

But Ecuador’s recovery leaves Group B evenly poised heading into the final round of games.

Brazil are in pole position likely needing only a draw against Peru to advance given their goal difference of plus six following their big win over Haiti.

However Ecuador could conceivably sneak into the last eight with a big win over Haiti in the final game. Ecuador are third with two points from two games.

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