Brazil Held to 0-0 Draw by Costa Rica in a Stunner to Open Copa America Group Play 

24 June 2024, US, Inglewood: Brazil's Vinícius Júnior (L) and Costa Rica's Haxzel Quirós battle for the ball during the CONMEBOL Copa America 2024 Group D soccer match between Brazil and Costa Rica at the SoFi Stadium. (dpa)
24 June 2024, US, Inglewood: Brazil's Vinícius Júnior (L) and Costa Rica's Haxzel Quirós battle for the ball during the CONMEBOL Copa America 2024 Group D soccer match between Brazil and Costa Rica at the SoFi Stadium. (dpa)
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Brazil Held to 0-0 Draw by Costa Rica in a Stunner to Open Copa America Group Play 

24 June 2024, US, Inglewood: Brazil's Vinícius Júnior (L) and Costa Rica's Haxzel Quirós battle for the ball during the CONMEBOL Copa America 2024 Group D soccer match between Brazil and Costa Rica at the SoFi Stadium. (dpa)
24 June 2024, US, Inglewood: Brazil's Vinícius Júnior (L) and Costa Rica's Haxzel Quirós battle for the ball during the CONMEBOL Copa America 2024 Group D soccer match between Brazil and Costa Rica at the SoFi Stadium. (dpa)

Brazil was held to a 0-0 draw by Costa Rica on Monday night, with the international powerhouse inauspiciously failing to break through in its Copa America opener.

Although Brazil controlled play and outshot Costa Rica 18-2, the Seleção was held scoreless by a defense led by goalkeeper Patrick Sequeira, who made three saves while recording the team's fourth consecutive clean sheet.

Brazil had an apparent goal by Marquinhos disallowed in the first half after a lengthy VAR check, but the team known for decades of sublime offensive play never got closer to a score — and never got a break on several questionable refereeing calls — in front of a lively crowd of 67,158 dominated by their yellow-clad fans at SoFi Stadium.

The result left Colombia on top of Group D after its 2-1 victory over Paraguay. Brazil has won the Copa America nine times, but its current transitional squad led by Real Madrid stars Vinícius Júnior and Rodrygo got off to a discouraging start.

Brazil coach Dorival Júnior said the result wasn't thoroughly poor, noting his team's wide advantages in possession and chances.

“I believe that in context, it was a well-played game,” Dorival said through an interpreter. “We passed the ball well and we created good opportunities. We weren’t happy with the finishes, I agree. But in general, I think we presented very positive things. Nowadays it will be like this. We have to find ways and solutions to score. We're always working on it, every moment.”

The draw was a monumental achievement for Costa Rica, an undermanned CONCACAF team with the youngest roster in the tournament but a reputation for overachievement and sturdy defending led by Sequeira, who plays for Ibiza in Spain's third division.

Costa Rica head coach Gustavo Alfaro, the Argentine veteran leading his first major tournament since his hiring last November, was pleased by his team's tenacity.

“I hope (opponents) start looking at us with respect,” Alfaro said through an interpreter. “Everyone thought we were dead before the movie started. We are going to play all the games as if they were the final.”

Los Ticos had lost nine straight meetings with Brazil, but Alfaro's young group capably handled a night that could have left them starstruck.

“All this is a nice reward for these kids,” Alfaro said. “When Vini greeted them, it meant a lot to them. He is someone who plays at the highest level, and for us who are starting out, it was a very big test.”

Brazil controlled from the start with 75% possession in the first half, but couldn't break through.

Vinícius was taken down in the box in the 22nd minute by a big hit from Haxzel Quirós, but got no whistle.

In the 30th minute, Rodrygo went low to head on Raphinha's free kick to Marquinhos, who banged it home at the far post. A 3 1/2-minute VAR review followed, and Mexican referee César Ramos eventually agreed with the assistant's decision to wave it off for offside by a minuscule margin.

In the 39th minute, a kick by Lucas Paquetá appeared to go off the hand of Juan Pablo Vargas in the penalty area, but Ramos made no call.

Paquetá ripped a shot off the post in the 63rd minute. Costa Rica then survived when Quirós nearly headed the ball into his own net before Sequeira smothered it. Sequeira then made a diving save in the 79th minute when Guilherme Arana ripped a shot on net.

Costa Rica survived a few more moments of chaos beginning in the 86th minute, with Rodrygo failing to capitalize on a pair of scoring chances and not getting a foul call against Jeyland Mitchell in the box.

Bruno Guimarães then had a clean look at the net in the first minute of injury time, but pushed it just wide.

Dorival said he wants to see more “dirty movement” in Brazil's next match.

“We need to make life easier for whoever has the ball at their feet,” the coach said.

Brazil's national team is in a transitional period — particularly without Neymar, who hasn't played since tearing a knee ligament in a match for Brazil last October. Neymar spoke to the team Sunday before watching the match at SoFi Stadium, where he got massive cheers in the second half when his worried face appeared on the scoreboard.



Iconic Sites Hosting Paris Olympics Events

France's paralympian cyclist Florian Jouanny poses at the Bir-Hakeim Bridge ahead of the Paris Olympics and Paralympics. Joël SAGET / AFP
France's paralympian cyclist Florian Jouanny poses at the Bir-Hakeim Bridge ahead of the Paris Olympics and Paralympics. Joël SAGET / AFP
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Iconic Sites Hosting Paris Olympics Events

France's paralympian cyclist Florian Jouanny poses at the Bir-Hakeim Bridge ahead of the Paris Olympics and Paralympics. Joël SAGET / AFP
France's paralympian cyclist Florian Jouanny poses at the Bir-Hakeim Bridge ahead of the Paris Olympics and Paralympics. Joël SAGET / AFP

The Paris Olympics have been designed to showcase the City of Light in all its splendor, with events taking place at iconic locations.
AFP looks at five sites set to wow ticket-holders -- and a global TV audience of billions -- during the 17-day extravaganza starting on July 26:
Eiffel Tower
The most famous of the Paris landmarks, the Eiffel Tower, will welcome beach volleyball.
The action will take place in a temporary venue near the foot of the "Iron Lady".
Next door, the Champs de Mars park at the foot of the tower will host judo and wrestling.
Reviled by some Parisians when it was unveiled in 1889 for the World Fair by engineer Gustave Eiffel, the Eiffel Tower has become the capital's symbol.
Besides being one of the world's top tourist attractions, pulling in seven million visitors a year, it is also a working telecoms tower, used for radio and TV transmissions.
Winners at the Paris Games will all go home with a small part of the iron colossus. Each medal will contain an 18g crumb of original iron, removed during renovations, melted down and reforged.
Grand Palais
Fencing and taekwondo battles will take place in the opulent setting of the Grand Palais exhibition hall, a glass-and-steel masterpiece created for the World Fair of 1900.
Its distinctive feature is its glass domed roof, the largest of its kind in Europe, which covers a cavernous exhibition space of 13,500 square meters.
During World War I, the Grand Palais put its art collection in storage and converted its galleries into a military hospital where soldiers were patched up before returning to the trenches.
In the 21st century, the airy nave has hosted giant installations commissioned from some of the world's leading artists.
It has also been flooded to make the biggest ice rink in the world.
Place de la Concorde
The vast, paved square at the foot of the Champs-Elysees avenue, where heads rolled (literally) during the French Revolution, will serve as an urban sports hub.
Skateboarding, 3x3 basketball, BMX freestyle and, in its first Games appearance, breakdancing, will all take place on the elegant square by the Seine.
Its harmonious name conceals a bloody past. King Louis XVI and his wife Marie-Antoinette were guillotined there in 1793 during the Reign of Terror that followed the 1789 French Revolution.
The largest square in Paris is defined by its huge gold obelisk, one of a pair originally erected by Ramses II outside the temple in Luxor in Egypt. It was gifted to Paris in 1830.
Palace of Versailles
Dressage, showjumping and equestrian cross country will take place in the park of Versailles Palace, some 20 kilometers from Paris. It also features on the marathon circuit and hosts pentathlon events.
In the 17th century, "the Sun King" Louis XIV transformed Versailles into a home of French royalty, where he resided with around 10,000 staff.
The vast gardens include a mile-long canal that once hosted opulent parties.
It has been a world heritage site since 1979 and is a firm favorite on the Paris tourist trail.
Marseille
The Olympics are spreading beyond the capital.
Sailing contests will take place in the Mediterranean city of Marseille, France's boisterous second city, better known as the home of Olympique Marseille football team.
Over 300 sailors from across the world will battle it out on the sapphire Mediterranean waters off the city. A marina has been built along the scenic Corniche coastal road heading southeast out of the city.
It's unlikely they'll have the sometimes ferocious mistral wind in their sails. It usually blows in winter and spring.
Marseille, which will also host 10 football matches, was where the Olympic torch landed in France on May 8 on its relay to Paris.