Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Copa América 2011 - Matchday 1 Round Up

After one round of matches in all three groups things haven't quite gone to plan in the Copa América so far this year.

In the opening game on Friday night in La Plata, host Argentina were held by lowly Bolivia in a result that will put nerves through the home nation. Edvaldo Rojas put Bolivia ahead three minutes after the break when he back heeled home a Jhasmani Campos corner but defender Éver Banega and keeper Sergio Romero surely has to be questioned as to why they didn't keep the tame looking shot out. The hosts got back into it with fourteen minutes to go, Nicolas Burdisso chested the ball down and substitute Sergio Agüero volleyed home from twelve yards out. The following night in Jujuy, Colombia went top of Group A when they defeated invitees Costa Rica. Chilean referee Enrique Osses was dishing yellow cards to Costa Rican players in the first 24 minutes but there were no complaints when Randall Brenes was sent off for a poor challenge just short of the half hour. The winner came on the stroke of half time, Fredy Guarín released Adrian Ramos who lashed the ball past Leonel Moreira in the Costa Rican goal.

Group B didn't exactly set the tournament alive, in the opening game in La Plata holder Brazil were held to a scoreless draw by rank outsiders Venezuela. A result which put pressure on Brazil to perform a lot better in their second game of the competition on Saturday. The stage was set for Paraguay and Ecuador to take advantage and put themselves in the box seat for qualifying for the last 8 but again a large crowd in Santa Fé didn't get to see any goals. Group B is now the most open of groups with all four teams still in with a chance of qualifying.

Group C began last night with Uruguay taking on Peru in San Juan. After their good run in South Africa twelve months ago Uruguay are being hotly tipped for a fifteenth title but they came unstuck against the lowest ranked team in the competition. Paolo Guerrero gave Peru a shock lead with twenty four minutes gone. Michael Guevara's long ball saw Guerrero spring the offside trap and take the ball round Fernando Muslera and roll it into an empty net. Uruguay levelled in injury time at the end of the first half, Nicolas Lodeiro playing the ball into Luis Suárez and the hero/villain of South Africa placed the ball past Raul Fernández to give Uruguay parity. In the second game of the night in San Juan Chile went to the top of the group after overcoming a resilient Mexico side. The Mexicans took the lead four minutes before the break, and against the run of play, when Nestor Araujo headed them ahead. Chile levelled half way through the second half, the ball ricocheting around the area after a corner and substitute Esteben Paredes got the last touch. Six minutes later Chile got the winner and it also came from a corner, Matias Fernández swung the corner in and Arturo Vidal climbed highest to head home the winner.

The competition returns on Thursday when Argentina take on Colombia with Bolivia and Costa Rica to follow. Friday sees Peru take on Mexico while the big guns in Group C, Chile and Uruguay meet in Mendoza and Saturday sees Brazil take on Paraguay and Venezuela face Ecuador.

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