SAO PAULO (AP) — Ecuador held a below-strength Brazil to a 1-1 draw on Sunday to secure a spot in the Copa America quarterfinals.
Neymar, defender Thiago Silva and striker Gabriel Jesus didn’t play against Ecuador at the Olimpico Stadium in Goiania.
The draw moved Ecuador to fourth spot in Group B, eliminating Venezuela and likely setting up a quarterfinal match against Argentina. Brazil had already secured top spot in the group before the match began, allowing coach Tite to continue testing his lineup with an eye on the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
The defending champions opened the scoring in the 37th minute with a header by Éder Militão after a corner. Angel Mena equalized for Ecuador in the 53rd when he finished with an angled shot in front of goalkeeper Alisson. The draw ended a streak of 10 consecutive Brazil wins.
Brazil’s next challenge will be either against Uruguay or Chile, the two teams which can finish fourth in Group A.
“Now we have to rest, recover well and focus on every final we will have on the next few days,” Brazil midfielder Lucas Paquetá said. “We need our total powers to win this.”
Defender Marquinhos said the game against Ecuador was important for Brazil “so all players of the squad could have at least some time of play, so everyone can be ready when knockout begins.” “Also,” he added, “players who were tired had some rest so they can go to the knockout and play their best.”
Marquinhos also expressed concern about the pitch at the Nilton Santos Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, where Brazil will play in the quarterfinals and, if it wins, in the semifinals of the tournament.
Peru beat Venezuela 1-0 with a goal by André Carillo from close range in the 48th minute. The Venezuelans needed a win to progress to the playoff stage.
Group B ended with Brazil on 10 points, followed by Peru (7), Colombia (4), Ecuador (3) and Venezuela (2). The top four in each group advance. Argentina leads Group A, which will be decided on Monday.
Lionel Messi’s team could only lose top spot if it fails to beat already-eliminated Bolivia and Paraguay wins against Uruguay.