Neymar scored a goal and provided an assist as Brazil cruised to a 3-0 win over Venezuela in their Copa America opener here.

The hosts took the lead in the 23rd minute when Richarlison’s angled header from a Neymar corner fell into the path of Marquinhos, who poked an improvised shot through the legs of Yohan Cumana.

Venezuela, severely depleted after eight members of their squad tested positive for Covid-19, deployed a five-man defence. But Brazil added a second goal in the 64th minute when Neymar converted from the penalty spot after Cumana brought down Danilo on Sunday, reports Xinhua.

Substitute Gabriel Barbosa made it 3-0 by sending the ball into an unguarded net with his chest after Neymar rounded goalkeeper Joel Graterol and whipped in a cross from the left.

“We knew Venezuela would defend well and that made the game very difficult,” Marquinhos said. “But we managed to get an early goal and that helped us because it took the pressure off and forced (Venezuela) to come out a little more.”

Brazil are vying for their second Copa America title in three years, having won the 2019 tournament that they hosted.

–IANS

akm/qma

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