ORLANDO, Fla. — Philippe Coutinho bagged a hat-trick to lead Brazil to a convincing 7-1 victory over Haiti in a Copa America Group B match Wednesday night.
Coutinho was scoring the first-ever international hat-trick of his career and the victory lifted Brazil to first place in the group.
“We had a good game and are leaving here happy,” Coutinho said. “We have to keep our focus for the next game (against Peru).
“We have to be dreaming about big things, but we also have to prepare well for the next game. Peru is a very strong team.”
The Liverpool FC star playmaker collected his first two goals in the 14th and 29th minutes to help Brazil take a 3-0 lead into the halftime break, before completing his hat-trick in second-half stoppage time.
Renato Augusto added a brace, while substitutes Gabriel Barbosa and Lucas Lima also netted for the five-time World Cup champions, who drew 0-0 with Ecuador in their tournament opener.
“We have been encouraging Coutinho during training to be the player he is in Liverpool, take advantage of his opportunities and he did that for us,” said Brazil head coach Dunga.
“He has been acquiring more trust and belief in himself and taking more risks. That is what we wanted.”
James Marcelin scored Haiti’s lone goal in the 69th minute, but the score was already out of control at 5-1.
With the win, the South Americans moved to four points in the group standing after two games and will complete the group stage Sunday against Peru, which defeated Haiti 1-0 in their opener.
“It’s not just important for Brazil to win, but for us to be the best players on the field in every game,” Dunga said.
“This was a good game. We did many of the things in the game that we worked on in training, but we are always seeking perfection.”
The defeat saw Haiti eliminated from the 2016 Copa America with one game still to play.