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Sluggish Brazil held by spirited Venezuela

sports Updated: Jul 04, 2011 23:57 IST

Agencies
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Brazil made a tame entrance into the Copa America, missing a host of chances in a goalless draw with ultra-minnows Venezuela at the Estadio Unico in La Plata.

The five-times world champions had chances - Milan's Pato notably hitting the woodwork early on yesterday. But the longed-for samba football never arrived and it was soon apparent there would be no repeat of the auriverde's 7s-0 thumping of the vinotinto in a 1999 group opener.

Ronaldo, Rivaldo and Ronaldinho accounted for four of the goals that day and the Brazilians had before Sunday also won all five previous meetings between the two nations in the competition, scoring 25 goals for just one conceded.

But the baseball-loving Venezuelans have come on since then by leaps and bounds and the only South American country never to make it to the World Cup finals even managed a goalless draw in Brazil during the 2010 World Cup qualifiers.

Brazil- like Argentina in Group A - only showed flashes despite vastly superior talent.

The team's 19-year-old star Neymar lashed a few shots across the goalmouth. Striker Robinho, a veteran brought in to lead the young squad, hit the crossbar, and midfielder Paulo Henrique Ganso tried but failed to organize enough attack.

Brazil seldom looked like a real team. Venezuela however, was helped by some impressive goalkeeping from Renny Vega.

Another draw
Santa Fe: Goalkeeper Marcelo Elizaga made several fine saves to secure a 0-0 draw with Paraguay in their Copa America Group B match on Sunday.

Midfielder Edgar Barreto had an excellent chance for Paraguay early in the match right in front of goal from another left cross by the dangerous Estigarribia but Elizaga pushed his close-range shot over the bar.