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Brazil reach Copa America knockout stage

22Thiago Silva and Roberto Firmino scored in each half to seal Brazil’s place at the quarter-final stage of the Copa America as they defeated Venezuela.
Silva volleyed home a corner from Robinho – starting in place of Neymar following his tournament ban – early on before Firmino converted Willian’s cross, with Miku scoring a consolation.
Brazil will now face Paraguay in the tournament quarter-finals on Saturday.
Colombia and Peru also qualified after drawing earlier in the day.
It was just the response manager Dunga would have desired from his Brazil side following the defeat by Colombia which had left their hopes of progressing in the balance.
They were cheered on from the stands in Chile by key forward Neymar, whose four-match ban for clashing with Colombia players in the aftermath of Thursday’s match is being appealed by Brazil.C
The gulf in class between the two teams meant his absence was not especially felt, however, with Silva quickly handing Brazil the initiative when he converted Robinho’s corner with an emphatic volley which was too powerful for Alain Baroja.
The Venezuela goalkeeper went some way to redeeming himself four minutes after the restart when he reacted quickly to palm away a thumping Silva downward header which seemed destined for the bottom corner.
Firmino soon doubled the advantage though when he completed a slick move – sweeping home Willian’s cross after the midfielder had combined well with Chelsea team-mate Filipe Luis down the left channel.
Miku gave Venezuela hope when he nodded in a loose ball after Brazil goalkeeper Jefferson had done well to tip a Juan Arango free-kick against the post.
A tense finale ensued and Miku almost sent his side through to the knockout stages in added time when found unmarked inside the penalty area only to fail to cleanly connect with a cross.