Lucas Paqueta scored in the first half to guide Tite’s side to the final.

Brazil defeated Peru for the second time in the Copa America 2021as they advanced to the final. Lucas Paqueta’s first half strike helped the Selecao edge past the 2019 finalists. Brazil will now play either of Argentina and Colombia in the final on July 11.

With the victory, Brazil are now a step closer to defending the title. Peru, despite looking more potent and solid than their 4-0 loss against Brazil earlier in the tournament, could not make the cut yet again. Here are five key highlights as Brazil defeated Peru in the semis.

5. Brazil’s samba football on fleek

Brazil went into the game as clear favourites, which was evident in the the early stages. The Selecao went all out and made it difficult for Peru to push forward. Combined with fluid progression and intense counter-pressing, Brazil’s gameplay helped them dominate the match.

Neymar was at the centre of Brazil’s gameplay and every attack went through him. On contrary to what Tite’s side typically do, they looked livelier and looked to get the first goal more than the previous fixtures. Fair enough to say, it was the first half of fiestas from Brazil.

4. The Neymar-Paqueta combo shone again

Neymar has assisted both of Lucas Paqueta’s goals at Copa America 2021. (Photo credit: Twitter)

Coming in the squad with comparatively less spotlight on him, Lucas Paqueta produced another spectacular performance in the semifinal. In addition to his midfield capabilities, the Lyon midfielder’s ability to combine with Neymar has made his playmaking noticeably better.

Against Chile, it was Paqueta who scored the only goal and Neymar had a significant contribution to the move. A similar sight was on display against Peru, with Neymar assisting Paqueta yet again. After beating three men inside the box, Neymar cut the ball back into the centre of the box. Paqueta scored with a wonderful half-volley to give Brazil the lead.

3. Peru’s resistance and defensive approach

Peru deployed five players at the back back, shielded by a midfield of four and a lone striker. Ricardo Gareca set out with a simple intention – defend deep and hit on counterattacks.

In the first half, Brazil managed 10 shots and dominated the possession. Peru lived dangerously through all this, as their approach of defending deep looked vulnerable at some points of the match. Brazil were quick to counter-press and win the ball in advanced positions, which forced Peru to adopt a more defensive shape in the first half.

2. Pedro Gallese’s resistance

Pedro Gallese made seven saves in the match. (Photo credit: Reuters)

Copa America 2021 has seen some brilliant goalkeeping displays so far. Against superior sides like Chile, Uruguay, and Argentina, Bolivia’s Carlos Lampe was solid. On Tuesday early morning, it was Peru’s Pedro Gallese who stepped up.

Despite conceding a goal, the Peruvian goalkeeper was his side’s brightest star. Peru’s captain was instrumental in avoiding further damage, as he pulled off six vital saves inside the first half an hour of the match. His reflex saves and aerial superiority kept the score-line down to 1-0 and kept Peru in the game.

1. Peru’s improved second half

After suffering against the Brazilian attack in the first half, Peru changed their tactics in the next 45 minutes. They looked more fluid going forward and found themselves on the ball more often. As a result, Peru forced Brazil on the backfoot and came closer to netting the equaliser.

Rather than continuing to defend deep, Ricardo Gareca’s side looked desperate to go for an equaliser. Peru enjoyed 53% ball possession and attempted six shots on goal in the second half, more than their superior opponents.

However, Brazil made their experience count and defended well to maintain their lead and advance to the final.

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