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Gabriel Jesus apologised for his actions after seeing red as Brazil won the Copa America, writes Jacob Bentley-York in Rio.
The Manchester City striker, who also scored and assisted in the 3-1 victory over Peru, acted angrily as he was sent off with 20 minutes go in Sunday’s final, potentially jeopardising his team’s chances.
“I want to apologise, I could have avoided it and I also need to grow up a lot,” he said.
— Copa América (@CopaAmerica) July 8, 2019
Jesus’s contribution proved to be decisive after his strike ensured the hosts regained their lead before the break after Peru had been given a brief lifeline through Guerrero’s penalty.
Despite finishing the game with ten men, Brazil had the final say as substitute Richarlison scored a late penalty to seal their first piece of silverware since 2013.
In front of a packed 70,000 Maracanã crowd, this was a game of fine margins as Peru started the brighter in a cagey opener.
Undoubtedly feeling the burden of the nation, Brazil took a while to warm up, but were ahead after 15 minutes with their first chance of the game as Everton volleyed them ahead.
Following neat footwork on the right hand side, Jesus clipped a delightful cross with pinpoint accuracy to the back post allowing the unmarked Grêmio forward to slam the ball home.
With the rhythm set, Coutinho and Firmino were next to test the Peruvian resolve as the hosts looked to gain the ascendency.
Despite this strong showing, Peru fought their way back down the pitch as the half wore on and earned a penalty for their efforts after Thiago Silva’s handball in the 44th minute.
After a long VAR check, the original decision stood and captain Paolo Guerrero was the man to shoulder the responsibility.
Keeping his nerve, the Internacional forward sent Alisson the wrong way as he levelled the score with just a few minutes remaining in the first half, Brazil conceding for the first time in the tournament.
But Peru’s joy wasn’t to last long as Tite’s side restored their lead moments later with Jesus again a decisive figure.
After fine work from Firmino on the right-hand side, Barcelona’s Arthur fed the number nine into space on the edge of the penalty area.
There was no doubt of the outcome as the Manchester City forward coolly slotted the ball past the despairing Pedro Gallese to cap a dramatic spell before the interval.
Brazil continued to play with the majority of the ball as the second half began and were culpable of fluffing more chances to extend their lead with Coutinho and Firmino again lacking final product.
With out and out chances dwindling, the game stagnated and threatened to descend into chaos with plenty of fouls and bookings.
This spell concluded in a second yellow for Jesus, who was subsequently sent off with 20 minutes to play after mistiming a challenge for a header on Peru’s Zambrano.
He pushed over the VAR equipment as he stormed off the field, television cameras capturing him crying in the tunnel as an official did his best to control him.
With the hosts down to ten men, Tite brought on centre back Militao possibly fearing the worst with Jesus’s dismissal increasing the probability of a Peruvian equaliser.
However, concern soon faded when his team won a penalty four minutes from time, giving them a chance to finally seal the deal.
The lively Everton, who was voted man of match, was the orchestrator for this — weaving through a tired looking Peru defence and eventually being knocked over by the recovering Zambrano and subsequently leading the referee to point to the spot.
It was substitute Richarlison who took the responsibility and, despite another delay from VAR, he was able to coolly slot home to seal the Copa America title for Brazil, 12 years after winning it last.