Celtic-linked Piero Hincapie shuts out Liverpool's Roberto Firmino as Ecuador stop Brazil
Reported Celtic target Piero Hincapie produced a stunning display last night to halt Brazil and secure quarter-final progression for Ecuador in the Copa America.
The Ecuadorians only needed a point to book their spot in the next stage. However, they came up against the red-hot Brazilians who had won their previous nine games heading into the clash.
Up against the likes of Roberto Firmino and Richarlison, Hincapie produced a top display. Ecuador restricted Brazil to only six shots all game, and managed eight themselves. And even though they went 1-0 behind after Eder Militao glanced Brazil ahead, Angel Mena rifled home an equaliser to book a quarter-final spot for Ecuador.
Hincapie, operating at centre-back last night, was linked with a move to Celtic before the weekend. With the Hoops in desperate need of centre-backs, the Scottish Sun claimed they were looking at the £3.5million-rated Ecuadorian.
Since then, the chairman of his current club, Atletico Talleres de Coroba, has claimed that he’s in advanced talks with a team from Italy [Eldesmarque].
Performances like last night won’t make Celtic pursuit of Piero Hincapie any easier
There will indeed be plenty of scouts keeping tabs on the Copa America this season. With so many bargains going in South America in particular, there will have been plenty of eyes on last night’s game.
For those that watched, they will have noticed Hincapie’s composure throughout the game. His no-nonsense approach to defending was enough to consistently frustrate the likes of Douglaz Luiz, Firmino, and even subs like Richarlison who failed to add anything to the game.
He stepped up when his country needed him against one of the best sides in world football. Not flustered by the occasion, it could be the case that Ecuador’s story in this year’s competition won’t end with the quarters.
What was also interesting was how comfortable Hincapie was with the ball at his feet. Whilst aggressive and dominant in the air, he didn’t give the ball away when in possession yesterday. His passing was accurate throughout, and he didn’t try anything overly-ambitious.
There was a beauty to how he performed against the Brazilians. He understood the occasion and didn’t use it as a platform to show off. As such, he ended up being one of the most impressive on the pitch.
We’ll see if Celtic follow this up with an offer. But after last night, don’t be surprised if Hincapie’s admirer list just grew.