Brazil's goalscorer dedicates 2-1 win over Venezuela to captain, who was banned for four matches for headbutting rival & abusing referee
Santiago: Brazil booked their place at the top of Copa America Group C with a 2-1 victory over Venezuela in Santiago.
Thiago Silva. Pics/AFP
Thiago Silva and Roberto Firmino gave Brazil a two-goal advantage in the Group C clash before Miku set up an interesting finish at the Estadio Monumental David Arellano with a goal six minutes from time.
However, Venezuela could not find the equaliser which would have earned them a place in the Last 8 at Colombia's expense. Brazil, without the suspended Neymar, controlled the early stages and took the lead in the 10th minute when Paris St Germain full-back Silva beat goalkeeper Alain Baroja to convert Robinho's corner.
The eight-time tournament winners extended their advantage six minutes into the second half after Chelsea midfielder Willian set up Hoffenheim's Firmino, who is being linked with a move to Liverpool.
Roberto Firminho (right) shoots to score Brazil's second goal against Venezuela at the Estadio Monumental David Arellano on Sunday
However, Venezuela gave themselves hope in the 84th minute when Miku acrobatically netted the rebound after goalkeeper Jefferson had saved Juan Arango's free-kick. And, in the third minute of injury-time, the Vinotinto almost got an equaliser.
Half-time substitute Josef Martinez found space on the left and crossed — but the well placed Miku was unable to climb high enough and the ball eluded him. A couple of minutes later the whistle blew.
Goalscorer Silva said afterwards: "We did our work. Our aim was to win the group and we made it. It was important to recover from the defeat against Colombia and the setback of losing Neymar for the whole tournament, so we dedicate this triumph to him.
Now it is time to think about Paraguay, a very tough rival." Brazil said yesterday that it will not appeal Neymar's ban. The Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) said the superstar would leave the team base in Santiago soon.
"During a meeting on Sunday between Neymar and the technical management it was decided that the CBF would respect CONMEBOL's decision," said a CBF statement.