Brazil beat Argentina to reach Copa America final

BELO HORIZONTE – Gabriel Jesus and Roberto Firmino scored either side of halftime as Brazil advanced to the Copa America final on Tuesday with a 2-0 victory over bitter rivals Argentina.

Jesus put the hosts ahead at the Mineirao stadium by latching onto Firmino’s cross and the Manchester City player returned the favor by setting up his strike partner after a counterattack.

The result came almost five years to the day after Brazil’s humiliating 7-1 World Cup semifinal defeat to Germany at the same venue, as the tournament hosts celebrated a berth in their first Copa America final since 2007.

Brazil will now face either Peru or Chile at Rio de Janeiro’s Maracana stadium on Sunday.

For Argentina, it marked another disappointing end to a major tournament. The Albiceleste have not won a trophy – the 2008 Olympic gold medal notwithstanding – since the 1993 Copa America and are still waiting for their first away victory over Brazil in a competitive fixture.

The defeat will also raise questions over the future of Argentina head coach Lionel Scaloni, who replaced Jorge Sampaoli after last year’s World Cup when it was reported that no other candidate was interested in the role.

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Brazil head coach Tite made two changes to the team that beat Paraguay on penalties in their quarterfinal last Thursday. Filipe Luis failed to recover from a hamstring injury and was replaced by Alex Sandro while Real Madrid’s Casemiro returned from suspension in the place of Napoli midfielder Allan.

Argentina started with the same lineup that had started the 2-0 defeat of Venezuela in Rio on Friday.

Both sides looked reticent to take risks early and had few clear scoring chances until Brazil caught Argentina flat-footed in the 18th minute.

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