Soccer-Brazil held to scoreless draw by Costa Rica at Copa America

Jun 24, 2024; Inglewood, CA, USA; Brazil midfielder Bruno Guimarães (5) dribbles against Costa Rica during the first half of a match at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jessica Alcheh-USA TODAY Sports

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) -Brazil missed a string of chances and were left to rue a lack of quality in the final third after they were held 0-0 by Costa Rica in their Copa America Group D opener in Los Angeles on Monday.

Brazil, who came into the Copa America on the back of a run of poor results in recent months, dominated possession but lacked precision in front of goal with just three of their 19 shots on target.

"Now it's about being honest with ourselves, creating alternatives to create chances, scoring, results are important in this competition, points left at the beginning can complicate things at the end," Brazil defender Marquinhos said.

They were frustrated by a resolute five-man Costa Rican defence, who looked to contain their opponents and deprive them of space. The strategy paid dividends even if Gustavo Alfaro's side rode their luck at times.

Alfaro said Costa Rica had been written off before the match had even started.

"We were Bruce Willis in 'The Sixth Sense,' where the only one that did not know he was dead was him, right?" he said through an interpreter.

"Well, everyone thought we were dead before the movie started in our case."

Raphinha had an excellent early opportunity to score after latching onto a long ball over the top from Rodrygo, but Costa Rica keeper Patrick Sequeira came quickly off his line to snuff out the danger.

Brazil thought they had got the breakthrough in the 30th minute when a free kick was flicked on by Rodrygo into the path of Marquinhos, who poked it in at the far post but the goal was disallowed for offside after a lengthy VAR delay.

The one-way traffic continued after the break and Lucas Paqueta rattled the woodwork with a long-range effort in the 63rd minute before a venomous Guilherme Arana strike was kept out by a fine save from Sequeira.

Coach Dorival Junior brought on youngsters Endrick and Savio in the 70th minute as Brazil desperately sought a winner but Paqueta twice shot wide in the final 10 minutes as the nine-times champions failed to break the deadlock.

"We played a great game, we fought until the end, I had three chances myself, we were frustrated not to win, but we left with confidence, we fought," Paqueta said.

"We played our game, we have to improve our finishing, myself in particular and other players, so that we can win."

Brazil's all-time leading scorer Neymar, who has been sidelined by an anterior cruciate ligament injury, cut a dejected figure as he looked on from the stands.

Costa Rica, who had lost three times to Brazil at the World Cup and twice more in previous Copa America encounters, had only two shots during Monday's game with none on target but held on to claim what could prove a valuable point in their campaign in the United States.

Colombia lead Group D following their 2-1 win over Paraguay earlier on Monday.

(Reporting by Aadi Nair in Bengaluru, additional reporting by Field Level Media; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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