Jesus and Firmino goals see Brazil past Argentina and into final
Copa America semi final, Estadio Mineirao - Brazil 2 (Jesus 19', Firmino 71') Argentina 0
Brazil saw off rivals Argentina to make the final of the Copa America, with goals from Gabriel Jesus and Roberto Firmino securing the 2-0 win.
Tite’s men will now face either defending champions Chile or Peru in Sunday’s final at the Maracana and on this basis they will be favourites to win that match regardless of who comes through the other semi-final.
Brazil's Gabriel Jesus (2-R) celebrates with teammates after scoring against Argentina during their Copa America football tournament semi-final match at the Mineirao Stadium in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, on July 2, 2019Getty Images
Tite made one change to the team that saw off Paraguay in the quarter finals with Alex Sandro coming in for Filipe Luis, while Lionel Scaloni stuck with the same line-up that produced a 2-0 win over Venezuela in the previous round.
Brazil started well and took the lead after 19 minutes when Jesus finished off an exceptional move which involved Philippe Coutinho, Dani Alves and Firmino, with the latter putting the opportunity on a plate.
Argentina grew into the first half as Lionel Messi took a grip of things. His free-kick delivery on the half-hour mark saw La Albiceleste come within inches of an equaliser, with Sergio Aguero looping a header over Alisson Becker and off the underside of the crossbar.
They carried this momentum into the second half and struck the woodwork again. This time it was Messi who rattled the post with a driven shot as Argentina tested Alisson with a number of efforts on goal.
Against the run of play, though, Brazil scored a crucial second when Jesus turned provider for Firmino, setting up the Liverpool forward for a simple finish into an empty net. This was the goal that broke the Argentina resolve and saw the Selecao into the final.
TALKING POINT - Was this the end for Lionel Messi as an Argentina player?
We have been here before. Lionel Messi’s Argentina career has been nothing but a disappointment for the great man and this was just another episode in that. Messi has twice before retired from international duty due to his exasperation at a number of things. He hasn’t looked happy playing for La Albiceleste for quite some time, so could this vastest disappointment force him to quite for good?
MAN OF THE MATCH - Gabriel Jesus (Brazil)
Before this match, Jesus had failed to score in a major tournament match for Brazil. The 22-year-old made up for this, though, with a highly impressive performance which saw him score the opener and create the second. Alves and Coutinho also shone for the Selecao, but it was Jesus who did the damage with his productivity and ruthlessness in front of goal.
Brazil: Alisson 7, Alves 9, Silva 7, Marquinhos 6, Sandro 5, Arthur 5, Casemiro 6, Everton 5, Firmino 8, Coutinho 8, Jesus 9. Subs: Allan 5, Willian 6, Miranda 5.
15’ What a strike! Wow! That would have been a stunner. Paredes lines up a shot from way out, maybe 30 yards out, and he caught it! The ball flashes just inches over the bar! Alisson was worried about that!
19’ GOAL! Brazil 1-0 Argentina: The long wait is over! Jesus has his goal at a major tournament for Brazil and it's a big one! It was great play by Alves and Firmino down the right, with the latter putting the chance on a plate for Jesus with a low pass into the six yard box. Jesus finishes.
31’ Off the crossbar! Inches away from an equaliser for Argentina! Aguero flicked on a free-kick with his head, the ball looped over Alisson, but came back off the underside of the bar, bounced on the line and was cleared!
56’ Coutinho should do better! Jesus wriggled through the Argentinean backline, with the ball falling to Coutinho just inside penalty area. But the playmaker scooped his shot over the bar. That was a huge chance!
57’ OFF THE POST! Argentina hit the woodwork once again and this time it's Messi! He took the shot on from a tight angle and smashes a half-volley against the near post! Then he plays a low cross right across the face of goal!
64’ Marquinhos injury! Brazil are going to have to make a change here. Marquinhos has sat down on the turf and he's not bluffing. He's already walking over to the touchline. Not what Tite wanted.
71’ GOAL! Brazil 2-0 Argentina: It's a second goal for Brazil! It came against the run of play. Brazil caught out Argentina, who were caught up the pitch. Jesus burst into the box, cut back the pass and Firmino sent the finish into the back of the empty net! Brazil on their way?
Roberto Firmino has now produced three assists at the 2019 Copa America, more than any other player at the tournament. He has also been involved in more goals than any other player (five).
Before scoring in this match Gabriel Jesus had gone 676 minutes without a goal at a major tournament for Brazil.