Coutinho stunner not enough for Brazil against Switzerland in controversial draw

Soccer Football – World Cup – Group E – Brazil vs Switzerland – Rostov Arena, Rostov-on-Don, Russia – June 17, 2018 Brazil’s Philippe Coutinho reacts REUTERS/Damir Sagolj

A wonderful goal from former Liverpool midfielder Philippe Coutinho has not been enough for Brazil as they could only manage a 1-1 draw with Switzerland n their opening match at the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Brazil were rarely at their best and struggled through large portions of the match, with Coutinho’s 20th minute goal one of the few flashes of brilliance from the Seleção in the match.

Neymar in particular, seemed rusty in his first competitive appearance since February. The PSG superstar was often pushed off the ball easily and was guilty at times of trying to do to much with the ball.

AS IT UNFOLDED: Brazil v Switzerland

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Despite the gulf in class on paper, it was Switzerland who made the stronger start. The Swiss played long balls over the top, targeting striker Haris Seferovic and succeeded in turning around the Brazilian back four on a couple of occasions early.

They even created the first chance of note, but Blerim Dzemaili could only scuff his shot over the bar after being picked out by Stoke winger Xherdan Shaqiri.

Philippe Coutinho scored a wonderful goal to put Brazil in the lead. REUTERS/Marko Djurica

It took 10 minutes for Brazil to show signs of life, when neat interplay between Coutinho and Neymar saw the PSG man to present Paulinho with a glorious chance to take the lead.

However, the six yards out the midfielder scuffed his shot, allowing goalkeeper Yann Sommer to get his fingertips to the ball and push it wide.

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That chance seemed to wake Brazil, and they began to take control of the game but it took a moment of brilliance to break the deadlock.

After Marcelo’s cross from the left had found it’s way to Coutinho, the Barcelona star took his time to pick his spot and unleash an unstoppable, curling shot into the top right-hand corner to give Brazil a 1-0 lead.

However, rather than drive home their advantage, Tite’s men seemed content to sit on their lead and play on the counter attack. Their only other chance of note in the first half was when Thiago Silva flashed a header over the bar in injury time.

 

Steven Zuber rises to head in Switzerland’s controversial equaliser after Philippe Coutinho had put Brazil ahead with a wonderful curling strike.

And five minutes into the second half Brazil were made to pay for their complacency.

Poor defending gifted Switzerland a corner, and despite there being six Brazilian players in the box, Swiss midfielder Steven Zuber was untroubled as he headed home from Shaqiri’s delivery.

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There was an element of controversy to the goal, with suggestions of a push on Brazil’s Miranda in the lead-up to the goal but the referee was unmoved.

However, the expected response to the equaliser never came, took a long time to come with Brazil struggling to get out of third gear. Coutinho’s goal remained their only shot on target until the 77th minute.

Neymar struggled to assert himself in against Switzerland.

Neymar’s frustration grew as the half wore on and he struggled to impose himself on the game with the Swiss defence marshalling him well, by whatever means necessary.

Brazil did start showing more urgency as time ticked away and almost stole the three points with a hat-trick of chances in the final minutes, but were denied by Sommer who made strong saves from Neymar and Roberto Firmino headers.

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Brazil’s final chance then fell to Miranda in injury time but he could only send his shot fizzing just to the left of the post.

The draw brings to an end a run of nine wins in their opening World Cup fixture and both sides now trail Serbia, who beat Costa Rica earlier in Group E.