Philippe Coutinho netted a hat-trick as Brazil kick-started their Copa America Centenario campaign with a 7-1 win over Haiti.
Brazil played out a contentious goalless draw with Ecuador last time out but there was nothing controversial about Wednesday’s Group B victory as Philippe Coutinho put the result beyond doubt against the Caribbean minnows during the first 45 minutes in Orlando.
Coutinho scored twice inside the opening half-hour and completed his hat-trick in the second minute of injury time at Camping World Stadium.
Renato Augusto scored twice with goals in each half, while substitutes and Santos pair Gabriel – dubbed the new Neymar – and Lucas Lima got in on the action after the break to ease some of the pressure on coach Dunga at the centenary tournament in the United States.
Brazil, though, were exposed in defence as James Marcelin scored Haiti’s first Copa America goal with 20 minutes remaining.
With Miranda still unfit, Dunga retained the centre-back pairing of Gil and Marquinhos as Brazil named an unchanged starting XI.
Looking to pull off a shock and snap a three-game losing streak, CONCACAF Gold Cup quarter-finalists Haiti called in Jean Alexandre, Jean Alcenat and Kevin Belfort at the expense of Wilde Donald Guerrier, Max Hilaire and Duckens Nazon.
As expected, Brazil controlled the game against the 74th-ranked nation but they were made to wait 15 minutes for the opener, though it was worth it after Coutinho produced a stunning strike to break the deadlock.
Left in plenty of space, Coutinho collected the ball outside the penalty area and beared down on goal before unleashing a powerful effort beyond Haiti goalkeeper Johny Placide.
For all of Brazil’s dominance, they were often sloppy in possession but that did not stop them from doubling their lead via Coutinho just shy of the half-hour mark in an all too easy sequence of play.
Dani Alves crossed in from the right flank, picking out Jonas, who outmuscled two opponents, including the keeper, and squared the ball to an unmarked Coutinho for the Liverpool star to tap into an empty net for Brazil’s 400th Copa America goal.
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Haiti emerged from the half-time break on the front foot, threatening at times but they were not clinical enough as Gabriel came off the bench to extend Brazil’s lead.
Staking his claim for a starting berth after replacing Jonas at the interval, teenager Gabriel was fed through by Elias and coolly slotted the ball past Placide on the hour.
Brazil showed no signs of easing up on Haiti as fellow substitute Lucas Lima got in on the action in the 68th minute, nodding home Alves’ cross.
Haiti, though, did score, with USA-based forward Marcelin thumping home the 70th-minute rebound after Alisson was unable to deal with Hilaire’s shot following a driving run from Nazon.
There was almost a sixth for Brazil after Gabriel’s impressive footwork but Willian’s stinging shot was saved by Placide with 12 minutes remaining, however Augusto completed his brace in the 86th minute with a tidy finish and Coutinho bagged his third late in stoppage time as the South American giants extended their unbeaten streak to eight matches.
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