Copa Central: A 7-1 result, this time in Brazil's favor

A win over Haiti -- even a 7-1 win -- is not going to satisfy the critics of Dunga's Brazil, but it sets up the Selecao to win Group B and head to MetLife Stadium for a possible showdown with the USA in the quarterfinals.

Neymar's absence, plus a string of injuries, left Brazil at less than full strength, and a 0-0 tie with Ecuador in a match Brazil would have lost but for a favorable call only added to the mood of pessimism surrounding the five-time World Cup champions.

Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho stepped up and scored a hat trick to lead Brazil past the hapless Haitians. He scored from distance in the 14th minute and added a second goal just before the half-hour mark. Coutinho and Chelsea's Willian ran the Haiti defense ragged and fellow midfielder Renato Augusto added two goals. The biggest cheer of the evening at Camping World Stadium, though, came when the Carolina RailHawks' James Marcelin scored for Haiti.

Willian, a late sub in the 2014 World Cup semifinals against Germany, is the only Brazilian who played in the humiliating 7-1 loss in Belo Horizonte.

"This is a different group of players," said Dunga at Wednesday's post-game press conference. "It's another era. We try to do our part by putting into practice what we train."

Coutinho, 23, has played all of 23 minutes in Brazil's six World Cup 2018 qualifiers, but he took advantage of the injury to Bayern Munich star Douglas Costa, one of six players to pull out of the Copa Centenario after Brazil's initial roster was named.

"Coutinho is taking advantage of his opportunity," said Dunga. "He has been following us. Every game and every practice his confidence is growing. We talked with him for him to be the Coutinho of Liverpool, dictate play, lead and take risks."

-- Peru was on course to clinch a berth in the quarterfinals after taking a 2-0 lead in the 13th minute against Ecuador, but the 2-2 tie in at the University of Phoenix Stadium leaves it probably needing to beat Brazil in their final game to advance.

Enner Valencia and Miller Bolanos, who played for Chivas USA before it folded, scored to bring Ecuador back from 2-0 down. Even if Peru ties Brazil, it will be eliminated if Ecuador beats Haiti by more than one goal.

CROWD COUNT. The crowd of 28,241 in Orlando for Brazil-Haiti was easily the highest for the three games at Camping World Stadium but still rather disappointing, given the support of Brazil and Haiti in Florida. The crowd of 11,937 for Peru-Ecuador at the University of Phoenix Stadium was the lowest of the 12 games so far at the Copa Centenario and dropped the tournament average to 37,421 fans a game.

Copa Centenario Crowds:
ATT. GAME (VENUE)
69,491 Argentina-Chile (Santa Clara, Calif.)
67,439
USA-Colombia (Santa Clara, Calif.)
60,025 Mexico-Uruguay (Glendale, Ariz.)
53,158 Brazil-Ecuador (Pasadena, Calif.)
42,766 Colombia-Paraguay (Pasadena, Calif.)
39,642 USA-Costa Rica (Chicago)
28,241 Brazil-Haiti (Orlando)
25,560 Venezuela-Jamaica (Chicago)
20,190 Peru-Haiti (Seattle)
17,133 Costa Rica-Paraguay (Orlando)
13,466 Panama-Bolivia (Orlando)
11,937 Peru-Ecuador (Glendale, Ariz.

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