Controversial decision costs Ecuador Copa America victory over Brazil

Neymar sat out the match in preparation for the Rio Olympics
Neymar sat out the match in preparation for the Rio Olympics

Brazil's new generation of stars were held to a 0-0 draw by Ecuador in their opening 2016 Copa America clash in Pasadena, California.

The eight-time winners have rested Barcelona forward Neymar, who was watching from the Rose Bowl stands, for the centenary edition of the tournament and they were short of ideas in his absence.

The likes of David Luiz and Marcelo joined Neymar on the sidelines as they all prepare for the Olympic Games, which start later this summer in Rio.

Douglas Costa and Kaka were also missing from Dunga's 23-man squad through injury and Ecuador gave the Brazil boss plenty to ponder after a frustrating showing.

But Brazil were fortunate to escape with a point in the end after a controversial decision denied Ecuador a shock win.

Ecuador thought they had opened the scoring in the 69th minute when Brazil goalkeeper Allison comically fumbled a cross from Miller Bolanos into his own net.

But the assistant referee on the far side judged that the ball had gone out for a goal kick before the cross, a decision that left Ecuador boss Gustavo Quinteros furious.

"I watched the video 25 times and the ball has not completely crossed the line - 65% maybe but not completely. The referee is sure of himself while he was fifty metres from the action and this error has benefited the strongest team," he said.

Brazil began the Group B clash brightly but seemed to be missing their star names, especially in the final third.

Chelsea midfielder Willian and Liverpool playmaker Philippe Coutinho were providing the main creative threat for Dunga's side but they failed to provide a killer touch.

Coutinho did let fly from 25 yards but sliced his effort wide on 17 minutes as Ecuador largely restricted Brazil to long-range shots.

Ecuador did offer their own threat on the break and this was evident when Jefferson Montero led a two-on-one charge before being taken down by Elias, who received a booking for the 35th-minute challenge.

Enner Valencia fired in a vicious strike from the resulting free-kick but it was well gathered by Brazil keeper Alisson.

Lucas Moura, a replacement for the ineffective Willian, breathed some life into a lacklustre Brazil performance and tried his luck from long range but blazed over the bar on 75 minutes.

A first-time left-footed volley from Ecuador midfielder Christian Noboa was also too high as both sides began to press for a late winner.

The closest either came to stealing all three points came when Paris St Germain winger Moura glanced a header into the side-netting with five minutes remaining but Brazil had to settle for a draw.