Football

Brazil coach Tite defends tactical changes in dull draw

Brazil coach also had no complaints with three disallowed goals against Venezuela

Brazil coach Tite has hit back at critics after a 0-0 draw with Venezuela in their second Copa America match yesterday morning (Singapore time).

Tite was criticised for his futile substitutions in a match where the Selecao had three goals disallowed and received boos from the unimpressed 39,000 supporters at the Arena Fonte Nova.

He opted to replace Casemiro with Fernandinho and sent on Gabriel Jesus for Richarlison and Everton for David Neres in the second half to no avail.

But the 58-year-old insisted that keeping to the structure was more important than a change in formation, reported Goal.com.

He said with a hint of sarcasm: "I don't have that intuition, of changing a defender for a midfielder, for example. I'm incompetent on that matter, to put a player on the pitch and hope that he magically finds a solution.

"You must have a good structure and not just change things based on pressure and need for a result."

Tite's men had three goals disallowed - one by the referee and two by the VAR - but he insisted that he had no complaints with those calls.

Brazil, who had made hard work of beating Bolivia 3-0 in their opener, again struggled to find a creative spark against well-organised opponents.

Firmino was kept quiet by Venezuela's defence, with Yordan Osorio and Mikel Villanueva neutralising the Liverpool striker.

The tale of the first half lay in the statistics from the opening 45 minutes, with Brazil recording only one shot on target despite enjoying 75 per cent possession. The best chance of the half fell to Venezuela, when Salomon Rondon headed Yangel Herrera's cross just inches wide,with Alisson beaten.

Firmino did get the ball in the Venezuela net in the 38th minute, but the goal was disallowed after Chilean referee Julio Bascunan ruled Villanueva had been fouled in the build-up.

BOOS

Brazil left the field to loud boos and whistling, and Tite wasted no time in making a change at half-time, bringing on Manchester City's Jesus for Richarlison.

The lively Jesus made an instant impact, making a foray down the left flank and curling a shot just wide of the post on 57 minutes.

Moments later, he looked to have fired Brazil into the lead, advancing menacingly on the Venezuela penalty area and unleashing a fierce low shot.

The ball deflected off Villanueva into the path of Firmino, who then squared for Jesus who continued his run.

The striker took a touch and buried his finish as the home fans erupted.

But the celebrations became muted as the goal was referred to VAR, who promptly chalked off the effort, after ruling Firmino had been offside when he collected the ricochet.

A deflated Brazil took several minutes to regroup, but grew increasingly desperate as valuable minutes ticked away and Venezuela held firm.

Jesus went close again in the 76th minute when Dani Alves whipped a cross into the six-yard box. But again Venezuela's defence was rock-solid, with Jesus bundled off the ball and unable to get a shot away.

Philippe Coutinho looked to have broken the deadlock three minutes from time, but VAR's intervention rescued a precious point for Venezuela.

Fernandinho almost snatched victory with a header in the 10th minute of injury time, but his effort rolled just wide of the post.

Venezuela coach Rafael Dudamel praised the VAR, which has saved his side on four occasions so far.

Peru were also denied two goals by VAR in their opening 0-0 draw with the Venezuelans.

"Long live VAR. We played an almost perfect game against a team of brilliant individuals," Dudamel said.

Brazil defender Thiago Silva said his side did not deserve the flak they were getting.

"In the second half, they (Venezuela) practically never got out their own area. We didn't win because of small details. But when you don't score goals, it looks like everything is wrong," he said.

Brazil meet Peru in their final group game on Sunday morning, with both sides needing only a draw to seal their place in the quarter-finals.

The top two in each group are guaranteed a place in the last eight, along with two of the best third-placed finishers.

- REUTERS, AFP

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