Coutinho shines as Brazil beat Qatar in pre-Copa America friendly

BRASILIA, June 5 (Xinhua) -- First-half goals from Richarlison and Gabriel Jesus gave Brazil a 2-0 win over Qatar in their pre-Copa America friendly here on Wednesday.

But the victory was soured by an ankle injury to star forward Neymar, who hobbled off the pitch in tears in the 22nd minute. It was not immediately clear if the Paris Saint-Germain No. 10 was at risk of missing the Copa America, to be played in Brazil from June 14 to July 7.

Philippe Coutinho, who endured a frustrating season with Barcelona, was named man of the match, relishing a free-roaming midfield role before he was replaced by Lucas Paqueta in the 68th minute.

"I didn't have a good season. It was below what I and everybody else had hoped for," Coutinho told TV Globo after the match. "I came here with a desire to work hard and hopefully that will help me to get my confidence back."

Coutinho had words of support for Neymar, who is under criminal investigation after a woman accused him of raping her in a Paris hotel last month.

"He's an excellent person and very important to our group," Coutinho said. "He has some personal problems that we can't comment on. I'm not sure how bad the injury is but I hope he can come back soon and continue to be important for the team."

Richarlison opened the scoring in the 16th minute at the Mane Garrincha stadium by flicking in a header after a Dani Alves cross. The Everton forward then turned provider with perfectly weighted pass that Jesus lashed in from close range.

The hosts lost their rhythm in the second half as coach Tite made five changes in the space of 18 minutes. Qatar missed a golden chance to score in the final minutes when Boualem Khoukhi hit the bar with his penalty after the video assistant referee ruled that goalkeeper Ederson tripped Abdullah Al-Ahrak

Brazil will finalize their Copa America preparations with a friendly against Honduras in Porto Alegre on June 9.

The hosts are due to kick off the continental tournament against Bolivia in Sao Paulo on June 14 before facing Venezuela and Peru in Group A.

[ Editor: WPY ]


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