Key absences cost Brazil several important players and its performance reflected it in a 0-0 tie with Ecuador on Saturday night in the Copa America opener for both teams at the Rose Bowl.
Ecuador came the closest to scoring in front of the crowd of 53,158, but an apparent goal was waved off as the ball was ruled to have gone out of bounds before the shot.
With the result, Peru finished the day atop Group B after a 1-0 victory over Haiti 1-0 in Seattle earlier Saturday.
Brazil was without several name players, including Barcelona standout Neymar, Bayern Munich’s Douglas Costa and Orlando City’s Kaka, a former FIFA Player of the Year.
Neymar skipped the tournament because he didn’t have permission from Barcelona to play in both Copa America as well as the Olympics in Rio in August.
Neymar, though, took in the match from a luxury suite at the Rose Bowl.
Ecuador appeared to score in the 66th minute when Miler Bolanos chased down a ball near the goal line and slipped a ball to the front of the goal. Brazil’s Alisson dove, but mishandled the ball, which bounced off his hands and into the goal.
However, referee Julio Bascunan ruled that the ball crossed the goal line before Bolanos’ shot and awarded Brazil a goal kick.
Brazil nearly scored in the 84th minute but second-half substitute Lucas’ header sailed wide of the goal.
The draw maintained Brazil’s dominance over Ecuador in Copa America. Brazil is 12-0-2 against Ecuador in the tournament.
Ecuador came out on the attack and held the ball for most of the first five minutes and threatened the Brazilian goal in the fifth minute, when Enner Valencia sent a shot wide.
Brazil won more of the possession after that early spell. Ecuador goalkeeper Esteban Dreer turned away Brazil’s first dangerous opportunity, stopping Phillipe Coutinho’s shot from six yards out.
Determined and finding space, Brazil continued to pressure Ecuador but could not get the ball into any positions of danger.
Jonas’ header in the 15th minute and Coutinho’s shot from 25 yards out two minutes later may have put some fear into Ecuador, but each went wide.
Casemiro picked up a yellow card in the 18th minute for elbowing Enner Valencia while both leaped to try and win a header.
After standing its ground, Ecuador won more of the ball in the final 15 minutes of the first half and put Brazil on its heels.
Forced to defend hastily, Brazil reacted with a pair of cautions in a three-minute span. First, Elias took down Jefferson Montero after Ecuador countered following Brazil’s corner kick. Valencia was unable to capitalize on the ensuing free kick, placing his shot directly at goalkeeper Alilsson.
Brazil earned another caution when Gil tripped Valencia after the Ecuadorian fouled him.
Fouls dominated the early moments of the second half.
Ecuador’s Arturo Mina picked up Ecuador’s first yellow card of the match two minutes after the intermission after fouling Coutinho.
Ecuador picked up two more yellow cards in the second half, with Valencia and Jaime Ayovi earning cautions for reckless fouls.
Brazil’s Dani Alves donned the captain’s armband, replacing club teammate Neymar with the captaincy.
Even without Neymar or Douglas Costa, Brazil’s lineup was still formidable.
Seven of the starters play in Europe, with the likes of Coutinho (Liverpool), Willian (Chelsea) and Casemiro (Real Madrid) on the field.