The first set of matches have been completed in the Copa América and Chile Today takes a look at the early ones.
Brazil 3 – 0 Bolivia
Missing their talisman Neymar, Brazil went into this tournament opener with a sense of trepidation. While they are the tournament favorites there was a sense that things could come unstuck if they faltered against a weak Bolivian team. The trepidation could be felt throughout the first 45 minutes. Both teams looked poor and as the first half drudged to completion the stadium groaned with disappointment. It was a VAR review early in the second half that brought the game to life. A penalty was awarded, which Coutinho dispatched to give Brazil the lead. From then on it was smooth sailing, he added a second goal in true Brazilian style with beautifully neat build-up play and Everton made it 3-0 late on.
Brazil tops group A.
Peru 0 – 0 Venezuela
Peru were left with disappointment after having two goals disallowed and not taking advantage of a man advantage following Luis Mago’s dismissal late in the game. It was Christopher Gonzalez who thought he had given Peru an early lead when he knocked in a fumbled block from Venezuelan goalkeeper Wuilker Fariñez, but the goal was overturned following a consultation with VAR. It was deemed that Fariñez had been fouled in the lead-up to the goal. In the second half Peru again had a goal disallowed. This time Jefferson Farfan headed the ball in but only for VAR to show that the cross came from Edison Flores on the left-hand side but he received the ball in an offside position. But Fariñez saved the game for Venezuela, pulling off a number of fantastic saves, as they faced a barrage of attacks from Peru in the last 15 minutes having been reduced to 10 men. Mago, the Palestino defender, received a second yellow card for a late challenge on the substitute Andy Polo.
It’s an excellent point for Venezuela and two points dropped for Peru. Both teams now need to get a win against Bolivia to stand a chance of progressing.
Argentina 0 – 2 Colombia
One of the tournament’s favorites suffered a dismal defeat at the hands of a competent Colombian team. Argentina’s hopes of winning their first Copa América since 1993 suffered a major setback. A team which reached the final in both 2015 and 2016 but were ultimately defeated by Chile on both occasions were favorites to win group B. But over the course of the match it didn’t look like there was much to separate the two teams. That until a 71st minute wonder strike from Roger Martínez gave Colombia the lead. Colombia, the 2001 champions, rounded off their victory with a close range finish from substitute Duván Zapata and top group B.
Paraguay 2 – 2 Qatar
Qatar fought their way back from two goals down against Paraguay to draw 2-2 in their first ever Copa América match. It was an unexpected highlight of the opening group matches and a thrilling encounter between the two sides. Paraguay took the lead after only 4 minutes, converting from the penalty spot. It would be another 50 minutes before the next goal, early in the second half when González doubled the lead with a long-range effort. Qatar battled throughout and should have scored much earlier but could not convert their opportunities. They had to wait until the 68th minute for Almoez Ali to fire in from a long range looping shot. Nine minutes later Boualem Khoukhi equalized for Qatar with a scrappy finish.
This looks to be an exciting group and all teams have a chance of qualifying.
Uruguay 4 – 0 Ecuador
It was a 24th minute red card for Ecuador’s José Quintero for an elbow on Nicholás Lodeiro that decided this match. Uruguay, already in control of the match, never needed to leave second gear, and glided past an Ecuadoran team that simply couldn’t cope. Goals from Edison Cavani, Luis Suárez, Lodeiro and an own goal from Arturo Mina completed the 4-0 romp.
Chile 4 – 0 Japan
John is a volcanologist, sports fan, radio broadcaster, and accomplished musician. Born and raised in Britain, he has travelled extensively for his research on volcanoes. Whilst living in London, UK, John performed in the punk bands ‘And Now We’re Even’ and ‘Filthy Militia’ recording six studio albums and two EP’S over this time. He currently lives in Santiago, Chile where he works as a university professor in rock mechanics.