Brazil's Philippe Coutinho celebrates after scoring against Panama during a U-20 World Cup group E soccer match in Barranquilla, Colombia, Thursday, Aug. 4, 2011. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)

Philippe Coutinho impresses for Brazil in Copa America stalemate with Ecuador

Philippe Coutinho played all 90 minutes for Brazil in their Copa America Centenario opener against Ecuador on Sunday, as the Selecao were held to a 0-0 draw.

Dunga’s men kicked off their campaign at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Los Angeles, as they looked for their ninth triumph in the competition’s 100-year history.

Coutinho was named in Brazil’s starting line-up, alongside the likes of Dani Alves, Filipe Luis and Willian, with the 23-year-old adopting the left-sided role he so often did for Liverpool in 2015/16.

Despite a disappointing team performance from the four-time World Cup winners, Coutinho produced an exciting individual display – one of the his most confident in a Brazil shirt since his debut in 2010.

The Reds’ talisman was a constant menace with his creativity and unpredictability, and he forced Ecuador goalkeeper Esteban Dreer into an excellent early stop.

There was a trademark long-range effort which failed to find the back of the net, and he also managed to flatten teammate Luis, following an unfortunate second-half collision.

The game’s biggest talking point came with 67 minutes on the clock, with Ecuador hugely unfortunate not to take the lead.

Miller Bolanos’ cross was spilled hopelessly into his own net by Selecao goalkeeper Alisson, but the ball was adjudged to have crossed the line, prior to the gaffe.

It was a very contentious decision, and one that potentially robbed Ecuador of a famous victory over their more illustrious opponents.

The matched petered out as it progressed, and barring a half-chance for substitute Lucas Moura, there were no opportunities of note in the closing stages.

Coutinho’s performance was undoubtedly a plus point for Dunga, especially with superstar Neymar not involved in the tournament, but improvements are needed if they are to make an impression in the United States this summer.

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