Tite's search for a striker continues as Brazil draw another blank


Gabriel Jesus defended teammate Neymar following claims Brazil no longer need him.
Gabriel Jesus said Lionel Messi was wrong to question the authorities following Argentina's semifinal defeat to Brazil in Copa America.

Peru captain and centre-forward Paolo Guerrero decided not to play for his country in the recent friendlies because his club, Internacional of Brazil, feature in the final of the domestic cup.

And so he spent a frustrating night ploughing a lone furrow upfield as his side were beaten 1-0 in the first leg of the final away to Athletico Paranaense. He could instead have spent a glorious Tuesday night being part of the Peru side who beat Brazil 1-0 in Los Angeles.

The absence of Guerrero makes this result all the more remarkable. Peru were at full strength, Guerrero and all, when the sides met twice in the recent Copa America. Brazil won 5-0 and 3-1.

The previous Friday, Brazil recovered from an awkward first half to take part in a splendid 2-2 draw with Colombia in Miami. Opposing coach, the vastly experienced Carlos Queiroz, described them afterwards as the best Brazil side of the last 15 years. Peru, meanwhile lost 1-0 in New Jersey to an inexperienced Ecuador team under a caretaker coach -- and not once in the 90 minutes did they seriously threaten a goal. How on earth, then, did they manage to beat Brazil just five days later?

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Part of the explanation can be laid at the wondrous nature of football and its capacity to surprise. One of the most fascinating aspects of the sport is that the spoils do not always go to the better side. The wonderfully dignified Peru coach Ricardo Gareca commented after the game that his team had not really deserved to win, and that Brazil had the better chances.