Brazil coach Tite rued not giving Vinicius Junior his international debut in Friday's friendly against Colombia, owing the decision to Neymar displaying "perfect" body language upon his return.

Real Madrid talent Vinicius has long been tipped to make the breakthrough at senior level for Brazil, having sparkled in his fledgling career with Flamengo and then last season in Spain.

Injury denied him a first cap in March after he was called up for matches against Panama and Czech Republic, while he failed to make the cut for Tite's Copa America squad.

Tite planned to let the 19-year-old feature as Brazil drew 2-2 with Carlos Queiroz's Colombia, but instead opted to keep Neymar – playing his first match for club or country in three months – on the pitch in an attempt to maximise the Paris Saint-Germain star's fitness.

"Vinicius was ready to enter," Tite told reporters. "The idea was to for him to come on, but circumstances change.

"He will have his chance. Of course, he will be used as a left winger. Playing in the national team is already complicated, the yellow shirt weighs on anyone.

"So, in the case of Vinicius, I will put him in his natural position, where he is accustomed and feels comfortable.

"The plan was not that Neymar played 90 minutes, he came from more than three months without playing, and I was about to take him off three times during the second half, but he was improving technically and physically as the minutes passed.

"I was talking with Dr. Rodrigo Lasmar and our physio during the match and we decided to leave him on the pitch.

"I don't think he expected me to play him for 90 minutes, I saw him look at the bench a couple of times, but his body language was perfect, he was not tired and there was no point in taking him out.

"The level of the game was so high and I saw the team at such a good pace that I didn't want to make any more changes."

Neymar scored Brazil's second goal, after a Luis Muriel brace had cancelled out Casemiro's headed opener.

Brazil are next in action against Peru on Wednesday.

Brazil coach Tite admitted Neymar's performance in the 2-2 draw with Colombia surprised him as he revealed he has a "relationship of truth and loyalty" with the unsettled forward.

After a move from Paris Saint-Germain to Barcelona failed to materialise in the transfer window, fit-again Neymar played for the first time in three months in Brazil's friendly at Hard Rock Stadium, Miami.

He made an impact 19 minutes into the game when his corner teed up Casemiro to give Brazil the lead and, though Colombia turned the game on its head with two goals in nine first-half minutes, Neymar side-footed an equaliser into the net after the break.

Tite said he considered substituting the 27-year-old but instead allowed him to play the full 90 minutes, having been impressed with Neymar's display.

"I said, 'I'll take him off' for the sake of physical preservation," Tite told reporters after the game.

"But I saw that his physical responses were strong, intense, and coordinated. I could see him growing.

"As the end of the game approached he produced more and more. He keeps his technique light and creates space. He was above my expectation."

PSG coach Thomas Tuchel has yet to include Neymar in any of his four matchday squads in Ligue 1 this season, but Tite gave a glowing assessment of the forward's condition.

"We talked yesterday about monitoring the performance of Neymar from 45 minutes," he said. "A player starts thinking and cannot perform [when fatigued]. But he was thinking and performing. It surprised me."

After scoring Brazil's second goal, Neymar wrapped his arms around the Brazil coach, who said the pair enjoy a strong working relationship at a time when the forward's career is in a tumultuous phase.

"It is a reaction of true loyalty," said Tite. "We have a relationship of truth and loyalty. We say what we think is right, what is wrong.

"It is a transparent relationship. I don't analyse other facts, other situations. But I can say that we have a real relationship."

Dani Alves described playing with Neymar as a joyous experience after the Brazil star scored on his long-awaited return to the pitch.

The Paris Saint-Germain forward set aside three months of injury issues and transfer speculation as he made his first appearance of the season in the Selecao's 2-2 friendly draw against Colombia in Florida on Friday.

Though relatively quiet in the first half, he delivered the corner from which Casemiro opened the scoring and later preserved his side's unbeaten streak by side-footing home in the 58th minute.

Luis Muriel scored a brace in between for Colombia, but Neymar's influential outing grabbed attention in the wake of his failed move back to Barcelona.

"It's always a joy to have Ney doing what he knows best, enjoying himself and doing his best for the national team," the experienced Alves told Globo.

"We have affection for him and when he is focused his level is very high.

"Let's let him do what he can do, which is to play football. We're here to help him."

The warmth with which Brazil's players greeted Neymar's return was not shared by Colombia, who fouled the PSG star four times.

One notable shove from Davinson Sanchez ended with the 27-year-old Neymar flying into the advertising board.

Goalscorer and Real Madrid midfielder Casemiro, recipient of the game's only yellow card for a first-half tackle on striker Muriel, was unimpressed with the opposition's approach.

"Guys come to play against Brazil and want to intimidate, putting their hands on us, talking, wanting to hit us," Casemiro said.

"You have to win on the ball. They have their tactics and we have ours. When it comes to Brazil there are no friendlies.

"Teams are always strong against us, so we have to play hard.

"I took the yellow [for the challenge on Muriel] and I apologised."

Neymar scored and set up another as the Brazil star made his long-awaited return in the South American champions' 2-2 friendly draw with Colombia.

An ankle injury had sidelined Neymar since June and forced the Paris Saint-Germain forward to miss Brazil's successful Copa America campaign as he eyed a return to Barcelona.

Neymar – who was unable to engineer a Barca comeback – made his first appearance of the season for either club or country in Miami on Friday, setting up Casemiro's opener before equalising in the 58th minute.

Luis Muriel's first-half brace cancelled out Casemiro's 19th-minute goal but Neymar came to the rescue 13 minutes into the second half as Tite's men extended their unbeaten run.

While Brazil welcomed back Neymar, Colombia were without star duo James Rodriguez and Radamel Falcao – who joined Turkish giants Fenerbahce prior to the transfer deadline – due to injury.

But Colombia made a lively start and were the better of the two teams as Juan Cuadrado and Yerry Mina came close to opening the scoring.

Neymar was relatively subdued in the first half however he provided the cross from a corner for Casemiro to head Brazil into a 19th-minute lead – the Real Madrid midfielder rising highest to beat David Ospina.

Brazil's lead was short-lived as Colombia equalised five minutes later through Muriel, who converted a penalty after being struck by Alex Sandro's high boot.

Richarlison had a good chance to restore Brazil's advantage but the Everton star's curling effort went just wide of the far post approaching the half-hour mark.

Colombia found the back of the net in the 30th minute but it was ruled out for offside, though it mattered little as Muriel struck four minutes later.

A great break from Roger Martinez saw Duvan Zapata receive the ball and play it out wide to Muriel, who fired past Brazil goalkeeper Ederson, before Ospina preserved Colombia's buffer by rushing out to thwart Richarlison.

Brazil returned to the pitch with renewed optimism and almost restored parity seven minutes into the second half but Philippe Coutinho's effort flashed just wide of the post following a terrific piece of skill to control the ball.

Coutinho was at the heart of the Selecao's 58th-minute equaliser after the Bayern Munich loanee picked out Dani Alves with a stunning pass from the half-way line as the latter squared a ball across the six-yard box for Neymar to side-foot into an empty net.

 

What does it mean? Brazil stay unbeaten

Tite's Brazil were not at their brilliant best, but they did enough to make it 17 matches without defeat. It is a streak dating back to the nation's 2018 World Cup elimination at the hands of Belgium.

Neymar fit and closing in on record

After months of speculation and fitness issues, Neymar returned to the field and he was influential in the draw. The 27-year-old scored his 61st goal in 98 international appearances – moving within one of second-placed Ronaldinho as Pele (77) continues to hold Brazil's record.

Muriel stakes his claim in Falcao's absence

Muriel had only managed three international goals for Colombia, dating back to his first in February 2013. However, the 28-year-old almost doubled that tally against Brazil. After scoring a brace in Atalanta's Serie A opener on August 27, Muriel is emerging as a key player for club and country.

What's next?

Brazil will face Peru in a rematch of the Copa America final on Tuesday, while Colombia meet Venezuela on the same day.

Real Madrid forward James Rodriguez and Radamel Falcao not been included in Colombia's squad for next month's friendlies against Brazil and Venezuela.

Madrid confirmed on Monday the 28-year-old had suffered a calf injury in his right leg but did not say how long he would be out for.

James started for the Spanish giants for the first time since May 2017 on Saturday, when Zinedine Zidane's side were held to a 1-1 LaLiga draw by Real Valladolid.

Atletico Madrid and Napoli were reportedly interested in signing James during the transfer window, but a deal failed to materialise and it looks likely he will stay at the Santiago Bernabeu beyond the transfer deadline of September 2.

Falcao is yet to make an appearance for Monaco this season due to injury and in his absence Colombia have called up Duvan Zapata, Rafael Santos Borre, Luis Muriel and Roger Martinez in attack for the double header.

Reinaldo Rueda suggested being with Chile has galvanised Alexis Sanchez after the much-maligned forward converted the winning penalty against Colombia in the Copa America quarter-finals.

Sanchez, whose Manchester United future remains in doubt, dispatched the decisive spot-kick after a tight 90 minutes in Sao Paulo finished goalless.

The 30-year-old was earlier involved in two Chile goals overturned by VAR as he continued a strong tournament showing that has included strikes against Japan and Ecuador during the group stage.

Those goals equalled his season tally for United and Sanchez will hope good form in Brazil marks the beginning of a career revival, his end to the last campaign having been blighted by fitness problems.

"The relationships, the knowledge, the little groups that exist in this team, with Arturo [Vidal], with Mauricio [Isla], and with all of them that have been together a long time... there are good memories [for Sanchez]," Rueda said.

"The national team means everything to him. I believe he brings great integrity.

"And about his football, we know he's not at his best level, because he's been practically injured for six months, but he is helping us a lot at the moment."

Sanchez capitalised on William Tesillo's miss for Colombia as Chile converted all five of their spot-kicks.

Head coach Rueda commended his players for keeping their cool after technology twice denied them the breakthrough during normal time.

"It generates certain feelings of frustration after a goal is celebrated and then we have to accept the contrary decision," he said.

"But it is something we have to adapt to. Many decisions have gone against us, hopefully some will be in our favour as well.

"The best part was that the group did not lose concentration, balance and mental control over these situations."

Vidal, scorer of one of the two disallowed goals, added: "We deserved to win it in the 90 minutes, but it was not possible.

"We dominated almost the whole match, we played a great match against a great team."

Chile kept their Copa America title defence alive with a penalty shoot-out win over Colombia in the quarter-finals on Friday.

In what was a largely scrappy and tight encounter, two-time defending champions Chile were held to a 0-0 draw at the Arena Corinthians in Sao Paulo.

Chile twice thought they had found a breakthrough, but strikes from Charles Aranguiz and Arturo Vidal were ruled out after VAR reviews.

But they delivered in the penalty shoot-out, Alexis Sanchez converting the winner to seal a 5-4 success after William Tesillo missed for Colombia.

Chile edged the first half and Aranguiz forced a superb save from Colombia goalkeeper David Ospina with a 12th-minute header, although the VAR would likely have ruled out the effort for offside if it had gone in.

Aranguiz thought he had given his side the lead just four minutes later.

Sanchez played in Jean Beausejour down the left and Ospina, along with Davinson Sanchez, made a mess of the cross, with Aranguiz netting from an angle.

However, the goal was ruled out after a VAR review, with replays showing Sanchez was narrowly offside down the left.

The first half lacked any real rhythm, with Guillermo Maripan heading a Beausejour cross over 10 minutes before the break and Vidal curling a Sanchez pass just wide moments later.

The battle continued after the break, with efforts from distance or set-pieces appearing the most likely avenues to a goal for both teams.

The VAR was again involved after Chile thought they had their opener through Vidal in the 71st minute.

Vidal finished clinically from inside the area, but the goal was ruled out after Sanchez's volley hit the arm of Maripan in the build-up.

That was the last of the opportunities through 90 minutes before Chile were too good in the shoot-out.

Vidal, Eduardo Vargas, Erick Pulgar and Aranguiz produced fine spot-kicks before Tesillo fired wide, Sanchez stepping up to put away the winner.

 

What does it mean? Chile edge through

Chile are still on track for a remarkable third straight Copa America title. They were the better team for longer periods against Colombia and deserved their win.

Chile continue Colombia dominance

Colombia just cannot get past Chile. For the fourth time in Copa America knockout games, Chile beat Colombia, while they are undefeated in their eight clashes at neutral venues.

Not capitalising on Sao Paulo traffic

Both teams reportedly arrived later than expected at the ground due to traffic in Sao Paulo, but Chile particularly so, leading to kick-off being delayed. Perhaps because of that, Colombia looked dangerous in the opening 20 minutes without taking advantage and Chile settled into the contest from there.

What's next?

Chile will face either Uruguay or Peru in a semi-final in Porto Alegre on Wednesday, while Colombia look ahead to friendlies with Brazil and Venezuela in September.

Chile's Copa America quarter-final against Colombia was delayed after the two-time defending champions arrived to the Arena Corinthians late due to traffic in Sao Paulo.

Chile reportedly got to the stadium just 40 minutes before the expected kick-off time.

As the scheduled kick-off time approached, La Roja announced it had been pushed back by 20 minutes, with the game to start at 20:20 local time (23:20 GMT).

Colombia also reportedly arrived to the stadium later than expected, although they got there before Chile.

Colombia will host the final of the 2020 Copa America, the Colombian Football Federation (FCF) has confirmed.

The tournament is being co-hosted with Argentina, but the FCF said on Friday it will stage the final for only the second time.

Colombia also welcomed the 2001 competition, when they won their first Copa America title by beating Mexico 1-0 in the final.

"The executive committee of the Colombian Football Federation is proud and happy to announce that the final of the Copa America Colombia-Argentina 2020 will be played in our country," an FCF statement said.

"For Colombia, it is a privilege to have this vote of confidence on the part of CONMEBOL, to elect us as the venue for the final of the most important tournament in South America.

"The South American Football Confederation can be sure that we will make all our efforts and put all our professionalism and work to make the final of the 2020 Copa America a memorable event.

"We will assume this responsibility with great joy, but with a huge commitment. We are convinced that together with Argentina we will make a wonderful Copa America."

Argentina, who last hosted the tournament in 2011, booked a semi-final clash with rivals Brazil in this year's Copa by knocking out Venezuela on Friday.

Colombia are set to face holders Chile in the quarter-finals, with Uruguay and Peru also competing for a last-four spot.

Colombia boss Carlos Queiroz issued an ominous warning to defending Copa America champions Chile ahead of a much-anticipated quarter-final in Sao Paulo.

Colombia have hit the ground running in Brazil and were the only nation to win all three matches in the group stages. That they did so without conceding a goal will only add to the confidence in the Colombia camp as they prepare to face a Chile side who have won the last two Copa America titles.

Queiroz is convinced there is more to come from his team, though, insistent that they are just a work in progress at the moment.

"We're a long way from the football we want to see," he said ahead of the last-eight clash on Friday.

Speaking about the depth of his squad, Queiroz added: "I have a beautiful but very difficult [selection] headache!"

One of the changes Queiroz is likely contemplating is the potential axing of experienced striker Radamel Falcao, who is yet to score in the tournament. Duvan Zapata – fresh off a Serie A season where he scored 23 goals for Atalanta – has already netted twice in Brazil and could come in for Falcao.

This is Colombia's fourth Copa America quarter-final appearance in a row but they have not scored in their past three.

Chile also regularly qualify for the last eight, having now done so on five successive occasions, and in boss Reinaldo Rueda, they have a man in charge who knows plenty about Colombian football. Cali-born Rueda has not only managed a host of Colombian clubs in his career, he also coached the national team from 2004 to 2006.

Rueda took the Chile job in January last year after the nation surprisingly failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.

At this year's Copa America, he led his team to victories against Japan and Ecuador before resting Arturo Vidal, Mauricio Isla and Jean Beausejour for a clash with Uruguay as the trio were on the brink of being suspended for the quarter-finals. Chile lost that match 1-0.

Chile have history on their side, having beaten Colombia all three times they have faced them in Copa America knockout fixtures. That streak includes a 2-0 success in the 2016 semi-finals, with Charles Aranguiz and Jose Pedro Fuenzalida scoring in the first 11 minutes of that encounter.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Colombia – James Rodriguez

Attacking midfielder James is yet to score at the tournament but has been at the heart of his side's best moves, creating 12 chances on goal.

Chile – Charles Aranguiz

No player provided more assists in the group stages, the 30-year-old supplying three, two of which have been scored by Alexis Sanchez.

KEY OPTA FACTS

- Chile are undefeated against Colombia at neutral venues in all competitions; they have won six of the seven clashes, including the last five in a row.
- Colombia have won without conceding a goal in their last four Copa America games, it is their second longest such run in the competition; they enjoyed eight wins without conceding between 2001 and 2004.
- Chile have lost only two of their 15 Copa America games since 2015 (10 W 3D); one of those was the most recent, 0-1 against Uruguay.
- Chile are one of the three teams with the most wins against Colombia in Copa America (also Argentina and Brazil); La Roja have won seven of their 11 games against the Cafeteros in the competition (2D 2L).

Chile coach Reinaldo Rueda played down the significance of his Colombian heritage with the teams set to meet in the Copa America quarter-finals.

Defending champions Chile missed out on top spot in Group C following a 1-0 loss to Uruguay at the Maracana on Monday, Edinson Cavani's brilliant header eight minutes from time sending Oscar Tabarez's side through as pool winners.

La Roja will next play Colombia – who won all three of their matches in a group that also contained Argentina, Paraguay and Qatar – at Arena Corinthians on Friday.

Despite having previously coached Colombia and four clubs in his home nation, Rueda does not think his presence in the Chile dugout will give them the upper hand.

"In football there are no mysteries or secrets anymore. With information technology and evaluation programmes, not much can be hidden," said Rueda.

"It is a question of two very competitive teams, two elite squads of a good level, perhaps experiencing very different moments.

"Colombia is coming off a World Cup, Chile failed to qualify, but there is this internal challenge for each of the Chileans to take advantage of this competition to demonstrate that they continue to retain a status as winners.

"[Colombia] are showing they are a very mature team that has played good games – even with the rotation of players in their last game. They had a good World Cup and have players that play in major leagues."

Rueda switched to a back three for the meeting with Uruguay and rested Arturo Vidal, Mauricio Isla and Jean Beausejour, each of whom were a booking away from being suspended for the quarter-finals.

"We would have exposed them too much ahead of such an important game in the next stage," explained Rueda.

Vidal supported the decision of the coach and plans to make the most of the rest with a strong performance against Colombia.

"I always like to play, but you have to respect decisions. The coach knows how to handle these moments and I did not want to miss the quarter-finals, so it's better to rest and train in the best way for Friday," said Vidal.

"We were not hurt by the defeat [to Uruguay]. We were already through. We always want to win, but sometimes we have to come second."

James Rodriguez is unsure where he will be playing in 2019-20 as the Colombia and Real Madrid midfielder continues to be linked with Napoli.

Serie A side Napoli want James, whose future is up in the air after Bayern Munich did not take up the option to sign the star permanently following a two-year loan deal.

James does not appear wanted at the Santiago Bernabeu, where Zinedine Zidane's Madrid are looking to raise funds after a busy transfer window.

Asked about his future amid Colombia's Copa America campaign in Brazil, James said: "Right now I'm only thinking about the Copa America.

"I still don't know where I'll go but I want to be calm. The decision depends on the club [Real Madrid].

"There are people with a lot of power there, I can't do much. I haven't spoken with Zidane."

Colombia are through to the Copa America quarter-finals, with James and his team-mates set to face Chile.

Colombia drew on their reserves to defeat Paraguay 1-0 and make it three wins from three in the Copa America group stage.

Carlos Queiroz's side earned all three points at the Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador, despite the coach making 10 changes to the team that beat Qatar last time out.

Gustavo Cuellar's first-half strike, which went in off the right foot of Paraguay goalkeeper Roberto Fernandez, made the difference.

Colombia had a goal disallowed in the second half as well, when substitute James Rodriguez flicked a clever pass with the outside out of his boot to Luis Diaz, who controlled and lashed a shot past Fernandez from 10 yards. After a long wait, a VAR review showed the ball had brushed Diaz's right arm and the goal was ruled out.

Paraguay, who have two points, now face a nervy wait to find out if they have done enough to progress out of Group C with one of the two best third-placed records.

James Rodriguez has targeted victory over Paraguay in Colombia's final Group B outing to maintain his side's momentum heading into the Copa America knockout stages.

The 2001 champions are already assured of a place in the quarter-finals after following up a 2-0 win over Argentina in their opening match with a 1-0 success against Qatar.

Duvan Zapata settled a scrappy encounter against the Asian champions with a late header to leave Colombia with six points from six ahead of their meeting with Paraguay, who are four points adrift in second place after back-to-back draws.

Boss Carlos Queiroz has the chance to rotate his side at Arena Fonte Nova - with goalkeeper David Ospina a confirmed absentee - knowing that Los Cafeteros cannot be caught no matter what happens when Qatar and Argentina face off in the other Group B match on Sunday.

But James admits there is still a long way to go as Colombia target a fifth consecutive win ahead of a quarter-final tie against either Chile, Uruguay or Japan.

"We're on the right track but we're still a long way from achieving all we really want," said James, who is heading back to Real Madrid after a two-year loan spell with Bayern Munich.

Paraguay feel hard done by on the back of their draw with Argentina, as Derlis Gonzalez was denied by Franco Armani from the penalty spot with the scores locked at 1-1.

"I would not like to look pretentious, but I think we lost two points," boss Eduardo Berizzo told reporters after the match.

La Albirroja are now winless in nine Copa America games and have won only one of their last 19 such outings - a run they will likely have to end if they are to join their opponents in the last eight.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Colombia - James Rodriguez

The star of the 2014 World Cup created seven chances against Qatar - the most for a Colombian player in a single game in the last four editions of the competition - including an impressive cross for Zapata's 86th-minute winner.

Paraguay - Miguel Almiron

Newcastle United's club-record signing set up Richard Sanchez's opener against Argentina, adding to his assist for Gonzalez against Qatar. He has created six chances in this year's tournament - twice as many as any other Paraguay player.


KEY OPTA FACTS

- Colombia have won five of their last six games against Paraguay in all competitions, but they lost the most recent clash - 2-1 at home in the 2018 World Cup qualifiers.
- Colombia and Paraguay have met on 10 occasions in the history of the Copa America - Los Cafeteros have won four and La Albirroja five (D1).
- Colombia have kept a clean sheet in only one of their nine neutral venue games against Paraguay (W2 D2 L5).
- Colombia attempted 13 more shots than Qatar in their last game (20-7) - the biggest difference in favour of Los Cafeteros in a Copa America fixture since the first matchday of the 2011 edition, against Costa Rica (27-5).

Qatar head coach Felix Sanchez said his team's late 1-0 Copa America defeat against Colombia left a "bad taste" after the Asian champions threatened to pull off another shock result.

After overturning a two-goal deficit to earn a stunning 2-2 draw with Paraguay in their Group B opener, guests Qatar almost secured another point until Duvan Zapata broke the deadlock in the 86th minute.

Zapata broke Qatar hearts with four minutes remaining in Sao Paulo, where the Asian Cup holders lost their first competitive match since the Gulf Cup of Nations in December 2017.

Speaking to reporters post-match, Sanchez said: "It leaves us with a bad taste because the end was already close.

"Score a goal in final minutes, when the game is tied ... You leave with the bitterness of not being able to score but we also have to value that the team competed with a great rival.

"We played against one of the best teams in the world. Despite the loss, we competed until the final whistle. This will give us strength to keep working and preparing for the future."

James Rodriguez – who is reportedly set to join Napoli from Real Madrid – provided the assist for Zapata's winner against the 2022 World Cup hosts and he added: "We had a very good game. We are on the right track. When you have [Radamel] Falcao and Duvan you always have a goal."

Zapata's goal made it two wins from two games for Colombia, who advanced to the Copa America quarter-finals.

"It's always like this when you have a team with the obligation to win and another which is very organised and that plays very tight on defence, not giving up spaces," Colombia boss Carlos Queiroz, who led Iran during the 2019 Asian Cup, said.

"If you don't score early, you are going to suffer. We won because Colombia played the way I like Colombia to play, fully focused during the 90 minutes."

Page 1 of 4
© 2018 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.