In group B, Peru lead the group with three points after their 1-0 win over Haiti, and Brazil and Ecuador are deadlocked in second with a point each after a 0-0 draw.
The showdown between historic power Brazil and Ecuador, the team that sent the continent alight in World Cup Qualifiers turned out to be quite a flop. Brazil dominated 70-30% in possession, but were unable to do much with it and managed only three more shots than Ecuador. With talismanic attacker Neymar in the stands and not on the pitch, Brazil lacked the creative spark one would expect from the Brazil teams of old. Without Neymar, most of Brazil’s chances came from their wingbacks, Dani Alves and Filipe Luis, and winger Willian. The game got off to a fast-paced start, with both teams charging from end-to-end when they won the ball. Ecuador had the first chance when Bolanos took a crack from a distance, and almost curled it in to the far corner of the net (GIF thanks to Reddit user u/foxinyourbox). Brazil saw a huge chance squandered a minute later when Willian deftly and easily blew past Ayovi down the right wing and squared it off for Coutinho. Coutinho was charging towards goal and was in the perfect place to connect with the cross, but was unable to get his shot over Ecuador’s goalkeeper Esteban Dreer, who made a herculean save to keep the ball out of the back of the net. (GIF thanks to Reddit user u/Omar_Til_Death)
The game calmed down from the tenth minute on, and the number of chances shrank drastically. Most of Brazil’s play came through crosses in from the wingbacks, but no one was able to get on the end of them. Brazil striker Jonas and Coutinho both missed chances on goal throughout the game, either missing shots or passing the ball away in the final third multiple times. Willian, who was brilliant for Brazil down the right wing all evening, picked up a knock just before halftime, but came back on the field and immediately skinned Ayovi again to set up a cross.
Willian was one of few bright spots for Brazil against Ecuador
The game remained quiet until a 66th minute break from Ecuador saw Bolanos smash the ball at the near post from the touchline, and Brazil’s goalkeeper Alisson fumbled it into his own net (GIF thanks to u/Omar_Til_Death again). The assistant referee had already whistled the ball dead for a goal kick, but replays showed that the ball was clearly on the touchline and therefore still in bounds when it was hit (credit again to u/Omar_til_death). The referee made the call from the opposite sideline, while running down the line, through Alisson and a Brazil defender. With no clear way to see the ball, he guessed, and unfortunately for Ecuador he guessed incorrectly.
Brazil recovered from the chance and continued to put pressure on thee Ecuadorian defense. Willian had Ayovi in his back pocket all night, and Filipe Luis was sending in cross after cross all night long, but like the first half, Ecuador would not break. Brazil’s best chance for the remainder of the game flew wide off of winger Lucas Moura’s head. Moura came on for Willian, who looked like the knock he took was still affecting him, and played well, but was unable to convert any of his chances.
Miller Bolanos was cheated of a winning goal against Brazil
Brazil will need to be much sharper in their game against Haiti, which they should win easily. They have the talent, they just need to combine better together and have more of a gameplan to break down their opposition’s defense. They don’t have a target man for Luis and Alves and Willian to cross the ball in to, so they either need to move faster and hit Haiti on the break, or they need someone to step up and be the creative spark in the midfield that they clearly lacked against Ecuador.
Ecuador head into a crucial matchup with Peru, who did what they needed to do and got a win against Haiti courtesy of Jose Paolo Guerrero (So much thanks to u/Omar_Til Death for that and this alternate angle). Ecuador need a win to catch up to Peru in the group and stake their claim for a spot in the knockout rounds, but they will need to play better to do so. They looked dangerous on the break against Brazil at times, but never had any real chances. They may have put the ball in the back of the net, but Brazil’s keeper should have saved it without much of an issue.
Another quick thank you to the reddit.com/r/soccer community and all of the gif guys, who do a wonderful and comprehensive job. Especially u/Omar_Til_Death, the O.G. GIF guy.