Venezuela held Brazil to a goalless draw in the Copa America on Sunday, while Paraguay’s clash with Ecuador finished with the same scoreline.Brazil – the star-studded defending champions – entered the tournament as second favourites, behind home nation Argentina.
After the hosts could only draw with Bolivia on the tournament’s opening day, a big win for Mano Menezes’ Brazil could have seen them installed as the new favourite.
But they could not find a way past a stubborn Venezuelan outfit at the Cuidad de la Plata, meaning their next group match against Paraguay will take on more significance.
Yet Brazil almost took a lead within a minute when Robinho was played through, but he could not beat Venezuelan goalkeeper Renny Vega.
Alexandre Pato would most likely have given Brazil the lead after receiving a through-ball from Neymar only to be ruled offside, and he also had an attempt saved before he hit the bar as Brazil turned on the pressure in the first 30 minutes.
Pato’s agony continued as he had another shot saved by Vega, while Robinho’s effort on the stroke of half-time beat the keeper, only to be turned off the line by Oswaldo Vizcarrondo.
But while the first-half was one-way traffic, the second was much different as Venezuela sat back more, hoping to hit their opponents on the counter-attack.
Pato set up a chance for himself with a sublime backheel but was beaten to the ball by Vega, while the AC Milan striker continued to dominate without scoring when another attempt on goal was blocked.
Venezuela began to limit the chances on offer, however, and they almost pinched a winner when Juan Arango beat Julio Cesar in the Brazil goal only to see his shot go well wide.
Despite a series of late attempts to grab a winner, Brazil were forced to settle for a point, and there was no doubting which of the two sides were happier with that result.
The scoreline was the same in the later game between Paraguay and Ecuador in Santa Fe.
Boasting a potent front line of Dortmund forward Lucas Barrios and Manchester City striker Roque Santa Cruz, it was little surprise that Paraguay had the majority of the scoring chances.
But the combination of some errant finishing and a solid showing by Ecuador goalkeeper Marcelo Elizaga frustrated Paraguay’s efforts, with Edgar Barreto and Santa Cruz going closest.
The pair of 0-0 draws keeps Group B wide open, with Brazil to face Paraguay and Venezuela clashing with Ecuador on Saturday.