Copa America 2011, Brazil Vs. Venezuela: Brazil Somehow Kept Scoreless In First Half

Maybe it is punishment for the awful hair of Neymar, Robinho and Dani Alves, but for some reason the gods are working against Brazil. They came out with a dominant first half against Venezuela in their first match of Copa America, yet have been unable to turn any of it into a goal as fortune has instead taken the side of the underdogs. Now they head to the second half, hoping that the scoreboard might better represent the play on the field by the end of the second 45 minutes.

Brazil got off to a quick start and just a minute in Robinho dribbled across the top of the box before finding space to fire at goal. It went right at the goalkeeper, but the first of many forays forward had begun. Just a minute after the first chance, Brazil counter-attacked quickly and Neymar was able to slide a ball into Pato, who would have been in alone on the keeper had a questionable offside call not wiped out the play.

Things got a little better from there for Venezuela. Brazil still dominated possession and chances, but the chances weren't coming quite every minute and Venezuela looked decent a couple times on the counter-attack. Defensively, Venezuela depended on blocked shots time and time again. Brazil kept getting chances to fire away at goal, only for Venezuela to get just a little bit of a foot on the ball and deflect it elsewhere. Some generous refereeing helped out too as seemingly every marginal call went Venezuela's way.

It looked like Brazil had finally broken through in the 28th minute when Alves flew down the right flank before sliding a ball towards the center. Ganso let it run for Pato, who took a touch from 15 yards to settle then let a ferocious strike go that had the keeper completely beaten. Unfortunately, he couldn't beat the crossbar as he rattled the iron.

Just 10 minutes later Brazil came agonizingly close again. Once more it was the counter-attack that freed the Brazilians and with Venezuela scrambling to retreat, Brazil had space. Moving quickly, Brazil found Robinho on the left and it looked like he was in alone with just the keeper to beat. That wasn't a problem as he sidefooted a shot past the keeper and seemingly into the goal, but Oswaldo Vizcarrondo had hustled all the way back to slide and block the shot from going in. At first it appeared as if he blocked the shot with his arm as he slid and Brazil thought so as well, appealing to the referee for a penalty kick. Replays showed that the ball struck right around the area where shoulder meets chest though and the penalty was never given.

At some point in the second have common sense would dictate that Brazil will score at least once, if not twice or three times. One shot won't hit the post or Venezuela won't be able to barely block. Stranger things have happened in football though.

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