Coutinho scorcher not enough as Brazil held 1-1 by Swiss

Monday, 2018-06-18 03:35:17
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Brazil's Philippe Coutinho scores their first goal. (Photo: Reuters)
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Brazil joined the host of big guns who have failed to fire in their opening World Cup game as lax defending from a corner allowed Switzerland to cancel out Philippe Coutinho’s spectacular curling strike and grab a 1-1 draw on Sunday.

The five-times world champions took a deserved lead midway through the first half in the Group E game when Coutinho’s irresistible long-distance shot cannoned in off the far post, but Tite’s side, who had looked so impressive in the tournament build-up, did not build on their advantage.

The highly organized Swiss hit back early in the second period from one of their few chances as Brazil’s Casemiro and Miranda switched off and the unmarked Steven Zuber barely had to leave his feet to nod in Xherdan Shaqiri’s whipped corner.

Brazil went all out in pursuit of a winner and came agonizingly close to finding it as Coutinho and Miranda lashed wide from inside the area while Neymar and substitute Roberto Firmino were denied by Swiss goalkeeper Yann Sommer.

They had to settle for a point and joined fellow tournament favorites Germany, Spain and Argentina in failing to win their first game.

It was also the first time Brazil had not won a World Cup opener since drawing 1-1 with Sweden in the 1978 tournament.

Neymar’s flamboyant blond ‘spaghetti’ haircut certainly caught the eye although he only gave glimpses of the spectacular dribbles and plays he is renowned for and which led Paris St Germain to shell out 222 million euros for.

Instead, Brazil’s second most expensive player, Coutinho, pulled the strings, constantly finding right winger Willian and drifting striker Jesus with sweeping passes although Switzerland managed to deal with the threat.

Coutinho’s whirlwind finish delighted the Rostov Arena, where yellow-shirted Brazil fans vastly outnumbered the red of the Swiss, although Tite’s side failed to build further momentum, as Neymar was frequently stopped in his tracks by tactical fouls.

Brazil always looked in control until they ceded a corner and Zuber took full advantage of their collective lapse of concentration to level.

Reuters