Gabriel Jesus scores, leads Brazil recovery at Copa América
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Three Brazilian stars will return to their European clubs boosted by their good performances and a Copa América title.
Manchester City striker Gabriel Jesus and Barcelona midfielders Philippe Coutinho and Arthur were among Brazil’s best in the campaign that culminated with a 3-1 win over Peru on Sunday and a ninth Copa América title.
Gabriel Jesus was Brazil’s leading figure in the final, just as he was in the 2-0 victory against Argentina in the semifinals.
Against Peru, he not only scored but caused problems with his footwork on the right flank, good passing and effective tackling from box to box. He was sent off in the 70th after a second yellow card and left the field in tears, punched the television used for video review.
“I don’t see this as a recovery,” he told journalists. “I learned since the World Cup, I came mentally better, I worked a lot at City and managed to focus again on soccer.”
The striker also apologized to those who were near the television he punched.
“I didn’t think of hurting anyone. I didn’t, but I put them at risk,” he said. “I exaggerated a little.”
The goal Gabriel Jesus scored against Argentina was his first in an official match for Brazil since October 2017, in the 3-0 win against Chile in São Paulo in World Cup qualifying.
Coutinho scored twice in Brazil’s 3-0 victory against Bolivia in the Copa América opener, and was key for his team’s high ball possession in all their matches.
“I am going back with a good energy, with new expectations,” Coutinho said. But, “Before I go back I need to celebrate a little.”
Arthur also left a positive impression for his defending skills and intelligence in controlling Brazil’s flow. After Brazil went down to 10 men, the Barcelona midfielder took responsibility to help the team regroup.
He was also one of the main reasons Brazil conceded only one goal in the tournament — the one Guerrero scored from the penalty spot.
“This is a dream come true,” Arthur said. “If we had to work double as much, we would have. Now I go back to Barcelona with this title in my career.”
Right-back and team captain Dani Alves will also leave Copa América better than he started. Selected as the best player of the tournament at age 36, he could receive many offers soon after his contract with Paris Saint-Germain expired.
“Now I don’t have to play for the national team, I don’t have a club. Can you get a job for me?” Alves jokingly said as he left the Maracanã.