'I knew I'd score' says Brazil goal hero Jesus after Copa win

Gabriel Jesus (Getty Images)
Gabriel Jesus (Getty Images)

Belo Horizonte - Brazil forward Gabriel Jesus said after his match-winning display in Tuesday's 2-0 Copa America semi-final victory over Argentina that he'd had a premonition he would score.

Jesus opened the scoring on 19 minutes from a Roberto Firmino pass and then 19 minutes from time reversed the favor as Brazil qualified for their first Copa America final since 2007.

"I felt I would score. I'm not saying that because I scored. Other times I didn't say this," said the 22-year-old Manchester City forward.

"I was very confident... and I managed to score in a great team performance. Firmino set me up really well.

"I'm delighted, not for the goal but for the team... We scored the goals, we're all delighted about the match, about the commitment, about the performance.

"We have to play every match with this spirit."

Brazil coach Tite paid tribute to Jesus's hard work, particularly given he'd been on a frustrating run that had seen him fail to score in Brazil's previous four matches, including the 5-0 thrashing of Peru where he missed a penalty.

"Gabriel impresses all the professionals that work with him because he never gives up," said Tite.

"People tell him 'you just have to put up with the pain and run,' and that's what I asked him to do.

"He has to refine his solutions and he has to evolve because he's young, but if I ask him to shoot 50 times, he'll do 51.

"This capacity of persistence and his quest for something is his trademark."

Tite likewise enthused about his captain Dani Alves, whose mazy run and skills created the opening for the first goal.

Tite praised Alves's "mental strength," adding: "I'm really very happy because of how natural he is. He's a good guy and it's great for us to deal with players like that."

But on the opposite side was a player who Tite felt was on another level: Lionel Messi.

"It was a great game, Messi is an extra terrestrial. He's exceptional, both with and without the ball.

"Regardless of the skills of the other players, he deserves this reverence."

Playing in Sunday's final, against either champions Chile or Peru, will provide the 58-year-old Tite with a new experience.

The final will be played at Rio de Janeiro's iconic Maracana stadium, where Tite has never before either played or coached.

"I'm truly going to be the coach of the national team when we play there," he said.

"People say: did you play? Yes. Did you play in the Maracana? No. Then you're not a player.

"Have you coached in the Maracana. No. Then you're not a coach.

"But now as a coach I'm going to play in the Maracana for the first time and I'm going to enjoy it."

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