Copa América: Costa Rica and Brazil play to scoreless draw at SoFi Stadium

Costa Rica bent but never broke Monday, playing Brazil to a 0-0 draw in their opener at Copa América, South America’s quadrennial soccer championship that is being played in the U.S. this summer with six invited teams from elsewhere in the Americas.

With its injured captain Neymar watching from the sideline, Brazil dominated in possession, controlling the ball for more than 65 of the 90 minutes while outshooting Costa Rica 19-2. But it couldn’t score on Costa Rica keeper Patrick Sequeira, getting blanked for the third time in seven games.

Brazil lost a goal late in the first half after Marquinhos scored from close range off a set piece, only to be ruled offside after a lengthy video review. Then in the 63rd minute, Lucas Paqueta’s left-footed shot from outside the box eluded Sequeira but struck the near post.

Less than 10 minutes later, Costa Rica escaped disaster again when midfielder Haxzel Quiros misplayed an attempted clearance, sending it at his team’s goal instead. But Sequeira reacted quickly and pushed the ball wide of the left post.

Brazil, fourth in the latest FIFA rankings, has struggled of late, winning only two of its last eight games to fall to sixth in CONMEBOL’s World Cup qualifying tournament. Monday’s unimpressive performance against No. 52 Costa Rica offered little reason to think Brazil will turn around soon. And that could mean an early exit from the regional championship it has won nine times.

In the other Group D opener, Colombia beat Paraguay 2-1 in Houston. With only the top two teams from each four-team group advancing to next month’s quarterfinals, Brazil needs a win or draw against Paraguay on Friday to get its tournament back on track.

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