The good news for Brazil at Copa America 2019 is that they remain top of their group and in control of their destiny after the second group stage game, but for their players and fans it didn’t feel like there was anything good in a frustrating nil-nil draw with Venezuela late on Tuesday evening in Salvador.
Brazil dominated the night, carrying the possession and out-shooting their opponents, and in past editions of the Copa likely would have won at a canter—but past editions of the Copa haven’t had VAR, which played a prominent and frustrating role here, particularly for Liverpool striker Roberto Firmino.
Firmino thought that he had opened the scoring in the first half only for the referee to wave it off due to a foul in the buildup with no VAR required. Then, in the second, Gabriel Jesus scored—but a lengthy VAR session adjudged Firmino just barely offside. Then, in the 87th, Philippe Coutinho scored.
Again, a lengthy VAR session ensued. Again, the Brazil goal was waved off. Again, it was Firmino at fault, this time due to a hand ball in the buildup to the goal. The fans were unhappy, but Brazil manager Tite said afterwards that he believed all three of Brazil’s goals had been rightly waved off.
Brazil, though, now need a result against Peru in the final group stage game, with the two nations level on points but with Peru behind Brazil on the tiebreakers, to ensure that they advance to the knockout rounds. They will be heavily favoured, but after last night nobody should be taking it for granted.