Following a lackluster draw with Ecuador on Saturday to open the Copa America Centenario, Brazil rebounded with a comfortable 7-1 win over Haiti on Wednesday night at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida.
Philippe Coutinho earned man-of-the-match honors after finishing with a hat trick:
This is the exact response Brazil coach Dunga will have wanted to see from his side after it mustered so little last week against Ecuador. In that 0-0 draw, Brazil registered just two shots on target.
Fourteen minutes into Wednesday's match, Coutinho put the Brazilians ahead 1-0. The Liverpool midfielder picked up the ball on the left flank and turned immediately to make a run on goal. The Haitian defense failed to close him down, and he rifled a right-footed shot inside the left post and past goalkeeper Johny Placide.
OptaJavier noted Brazil has been a quick starter of late:
Coutinho doubled his team's lead in the 29th minute. Dani Alves set up the score with a cross from the right into Jonas. After a mix-up between two Haiti defenders, Placide attempted to grab the ball off Jonas, but the Benfica forward quickly passed it over to Coutinho, who had a tap-in for Brazil's second goal:
According to OptaJavier, it was the 400th Copa America goal for Brazil.
Placide's bad night continued in the 35th minute. After saving a shot from Renato Augusto, he tried to start the counterattack with a quick throw. Alves intercepted the pass and crossed the ball to Augusto, whose header dipped just under the crossbar and into the back of the net.
In addition to Placide's error, Kevin Kinkead of PhillyVoice.com provided another cruel aspect of the goal for Haiti:
San Jose Earthquakes midfielder Tommy Thompson was inspired by what he saw from Brazil on the pitch:
Gabriel added a fourth goal for Brazil in the 59th minute. His left-footed shot slid into the bottom-right corner past a diving Placide.
Lucas Lima then made it a 5-0 game in the 67th minute. Alves was once again the engineer, finding the Santos midfielder with a cross from the right. Lucas Lima's header to the far post wrong-footed Placide, whose outstretched left hand couldn't get a touch on the ball.
James Marcelin provided a consolation goal for Haiti in the 70th minute. Brazilian goalkeeper Alisson Becker saved Max Hilaire's shot, but he deflected the ball right into the path of Marcelin, who hammered home the rebound.
The Carolina RailHawks celebrated their midfielder getting on the board:
United States national team striker Jozy Altidore, whose parents immigrated to the U.S. from Haiti, was happy for Les Grenadiers:
Brazil had the last word after Augusto completed his brace in the 86th minute, and Coutinho found his third goal in the second minute of injury time, capping off a commanding performance.
TopDrawerSoccer.com's Will Parchman threw a wet blanket on the entire night, however:
Brazil supporters will be happy to see their team prevail Wednesday, but three points were the minimum expectation. The Selecao shouldn't have much trouble brushing aside Haiti, who are 74th in the most recent FIFA ranking, regardless of whether they took a second-string side to the Copa America or not.
Still, the Brazilians deserve credit for putting together such a comprehensive showing. Occasionally, bigger countries end up playing down to their opponents, and that wasn't the case whatsoever in Orlando. The margin of victory could also help Brazil should goal difference come into play to determine the group standings.
Brazil has a chance to finish top of the group by beating Peru in its final group-stage match Sunday.
Haiti is already eliminated from the tournament following Wednesday's defeat, and it'll finish up its Copa America on Sunday against Ecuador.
Dunga offered his thoughts following the win, per the Orlando Sentinel's Alicia DelGallo:
We are relaxed now, after it is done. During the game, tension is at its peak. Football today, you cannot give any opportunity. For us, it’s not so important to win, it's to be the best in every game. Our fight is with ourselves. It is a different group, entirely different, and we tried to do our part to put in practice what we did in training. The goals happened, and we had a positive result.
Coutinho enjoyed the win but knows he can't savor the result for too long.
"We had a good game and are leaving here happy," the midfielder said, per the Associated Press (via the Daily Mail). "We have to keep our focus for the next game (against Peru). We have to be dreaming about big things, but we also have to prepare well for the next game. Peru is a very strong team."
Haiti coach Patrice Neveu didn't come down too hard on his squad despite the heavy defeat, per DelGallo: "At least we made the Brazilians pay attention in this great game. My players also have developed a great experience. It was a big match. Brazil is a top-level team in the world, and we scored one against that top level."