Hosts Brazil outclass hapless Bolivia by three goals in Copa America opener
Tournament hosts Brazil opened the 2019 Copa America with a 3-0 victory over Bolivia at the Cicero Pompeu de Toledo Stadium in Sao Paulo on Friday night.
Philippe Coutinho, who struggled to impress for Barcelona during the 2018-19 campaign, scored twice in the space of three second-half minutes before Everton netted a stunner for the host nation late on.
In truth, it was always going to be a straightforward start to their Group A campaign for Tite's outfit against a Bolivia side that entered the competition as the lowest-ranked CONMEBOL team.
Neymar's absence for the hosts could prove vital later in the competition. Tite was still able to select an XI full of talent, though, with Everton's Richarlison given the chance to impress alongside Ajax talisman David Neres and Liverpool's Champions League winner Roberto Firmino in the final third of the field.
Richarlison was extremely bright in the early moments and won his team a free kick in the third minute after showing quick feet in a tight position, but the resulting effort from Coutinho was straight into the wall.
Moments later, though, Bolivia goalkeeper Carlos Lampe had to make a brilliant save to keep out a close-range attempt from Firmino, who had been given the nod over Gabriel Jesus through the middle.
The pressure was relentless in the early stages and the Selecao had another opportunity in the 11th minute when Thiago Silva climbed highest inside the Bolivia box, but the centre-back's header just dropped wide of the far post.
Brazil were awarded a penalty early in the second half following a VAR review, however, with Jusino being penalised for handball inside the box.
Coutinho stepped forward for the host nation and expertly found the bottom corner to make the breakthrough in Sao Paulo, much to the relief of the majority inside the stadium.
Three minutes later, Brazil had their second and it was Coutinho once again, with the Barcelona attacker heading a Firmino cross into the back of the net from close range.
Tite made his first substitution of the match in the 65th minute, with Gabriel Jesus sent onto the field. Bolivia, meanwhile, also changed two players in the period that followed the second goal, which all but decided the contest.
Clear chances were few and far between, though, and Brazil's number seven saw his night end in the 81st minute when Everton was introduced in the final third of the field.
It did not take long for Everton to make his mark, with the 23-year-old driving down the left before cutting onto his right foot and picking out the far corner of the net to score a wonderful third for Brazil in the 85th minute.
The Selecao have not won the Copa America since 2007, but are considered to be the favourites this summer, particularly when considering that home advantage is also with Tite's team.
Next up for Brazil is a clash with Venezuela on Tuesday night, while Bolivia will be looking to bounce back from the defeat when they face Peru.