Fans Amass As Victorious Argentina Returns With Copa


Fans surround a bus transporting Argentina’s football team upon its arrival in Ezeiza, Buenos Aires, Argentina, on July 11, 2021, after winning the 2021 Copa America final match against Brazil. ALEJANDRO PAGNI / AFP

 

Hundreds of fans gathered in cities across Argentina Sunday to celebrate their team’s victorious return from the 2021 Copa America, where they beat Brazil on home turf.

The Argentinian Football Association (AFA) had not planned any official celebration given the coronavirus epidemic, which had caused the country to pull out of co-hosting the tournament, which then went to even worse-hit Brazil.

Lionel Messi and his team arrived home in Buenos Aires Sunday morning on a private flight from Rio de Janeiro, and submitted to coronavirus tests.

In two buses emblazoned with the words “Champions of America 2021” and the number 15 — for Argentina’s number of Copa America wins — the team was escorted from the airport by police as hundreds supporters gathered along the highway, waving and cheering.

“Beautiful, beautiful. And thank you, because the people needed it,” exclaimed one fan, Emilio Navarro.

After a quick show at the AFA headquarters in Buenos Aires, the victorious players went their different ways, without fanfare.

Messi left the AFA in a car accompanied by police motorcycles, avoiding dozens of gathered fans, and headed for his home city of Rosario, according to television images.

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Aerial view of fans surrounding buses transporting Argentina’s football team upon its arrival in Ezeiza, Buenos Aires, Argentina, on July 11, 2021, after winning the 2021 Copa America final match against Brazil. JUAN MABROMATA / AFP

 

After the match Saturday night, crowds thronged the Obelisk monument in Buenos Aires — a traditional gathering place for Argentinian celebrations and commemorations.

The last time crowds had gathered at the Obelisk was November 2020, when star footballer Diego Maradona died.

Cars took to the Avenida 9 de Julio in the early hours, hooting festively, as hundreds of ecstatic fans gathered in the city center, waving flags, hugging and singing as police kept a close watch.

There were similar celebrations in other major cities, including Rosario.

But many fans were not wearing face masks, raising fears the celebrations will cause a hike in coronavirus infections.

Argentina, with a population of 45 million, has one of the highest coronavirus infection and death rates in the world, with more than 98,000 lives lost.

Brazil is the country with the world’s second-highest reported Covid-19 death toll at more than 530,000, and many were shocked and surprised when the Copa was moved there.

Argentina’s forward Lionel Messi is embraced by his wife Antonella Roccuzzo upon his arrival at the Islas Malvinas airport in Rosario, Santa Fe province, Argentina, on July 11, 2021, after Argentina won the 2021 Copa America final football match against Brazil. STR / AFP

 

Brazilian star Neymar on Sunday congratulated his “brother” Messi for his first trophy with the Argentinian side.

“I hate to lose, but enjoy this title, football was waiting for you to have this moment,” the player wrote on Instagram.

AFP

Messi Ends Trophy Drought As Argentina Beat Brazil To Win Copa America

 

 

Superstar Lionel Messi won his first trophy with his national team as Angel Di Maria’s goal gave Argentina a 1-0 win over hosts Brazil in the Copa America final on Saturday.

The victory at Rio de Janeiro’s Maracana stadium ended Argentina’s 28-year wait for a major trophy, and also ended Brazil’s unbeaten home record that stretched back more than 2,500 days.

Argentina had last tasted success at a major tournament in 1993 when the great Gabriel Batistuta’s brace gave them a 2-1 win over Mexico in the Copa final in Ecuador.

“It’s a great title, especially for our people. The fans support the team unconditionally. I think they can identify with this team that never gives in,” said Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni.

It was the first time in six editions playing at home that Brazil had failed to lift the trophy.

And while 34-year-old Messi’s odyssey has come to an end, Brazil’s Neymar, five years his junior, is still without a major title at international level having missed the Selecao’s win on home soil two years ago through injury.

Argentina edged a brutal and fractious affair thanks to Di Maria’s goal on 22 minutes.

The 33-year-old winger ran onto Rodrigo De Paul’s sumptuous through ball to lob Brazil goalkeeper Ederson with a first-time finish.

“We fell short so many times, we dreamt so much about this, fought so hard,” said Di Maria, who was named man of the match.

“Many people said we wouldn’t manage it, we were criticized a lot. But we kept knocking at the door and kept going until today we knocked it down and entered.”

Messi could have wrapped up the win two minutes from time but slipped when clean through with only Ederson to beat.

“We have to be big enough to recognize (the defeat) regardless of how painful and difficult it is,” said Brazil coach Tite.

Di Maria the tormentor

In a frantic start, Argentina’s burly enforcer Nicolas Otamendi was quickly in with his first foul while Brazilian midfielder Fred picked up the first booking after just three minutes for a studs-up lunge at Gonzalo Montiel.

Brazil were unchanged from their semi-final win over Peru while Scaloni made five alterations, notably bringing in Di Maria — who made an energetic and decisive entry off the bench against Colombia last time out.

The final was the first match of the tournament, which was originally due to take place last year, to allow in fans as 7,800 — a tenth of the Maracana capacity — took their seats after authorities partially lifted pandemic restrictions.

The first clear chance came on 13 minutes as Richarlison headed down Marquinhos’s long ball into the path of Neymar but the Brazilian star was crowded out by a pair of defenders.

The brutal nature of the early challenges could be seen on the players’ kits, with Neymar sporting ripped shorts and Lucas Paqueta being left with a hole in his sock following an intervention by Otamendi.

Argentina played with aggression and commitment, but no lack of quality with Di Maria tormenting Brazil’s left-back Renan Lodi, who probably should have cut out De Paul’s pass for the winger’s goal.

Di Maria had a shot from 20 yards blocked while Messi fired just wide following a 40-yard run.

Brazil struggled to create anything of note and even when they had a free-kick from shooting range, Neymar couldn’t beat the wall.

When the hosts did finally maintain some pressure late in the first half, Everton’s deflected strike bobbled through to goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez.

Fractious, niggly

Tite was quick to act, bringing on forward Roberto Firmino for defensive midfielder Fred at half-time.

Richarlison had the ball in the net soon after but he was flagged offside.

And moments later Neymar teed up Richarlison but Martinez parried his near post effort.

Increasingly it descended into a fractious, niggly affair with little fluid play between fouls and a plethora of theatrics and petulant bickering.

It was playing into Argentina’s hands as they looked to run down the clock and hold onto their slender lead.

“Only one team wanted to play. It’s a trap we knew about. That’s not an excuse,” complained Brazil captain Thiago Silva.

“It’s difficult to play such a stop-start match.”

Brazil managed to up the pressure again at the end of the half but they lacked a killer touch against some full-blooded defending — Montiel even finished the game with his white sock soaked in blood.

When Brazil substitute Gabriel Barbosa fired a volley on target, Martinez was equal to it.

Messi slipped embarrassingly late on with a chance to clinch victory but it mattered little as moments later his teammates were tossing him in the air to celebrate their win.

AFP

Copa America: Diaz Stunner Downs Peru To Give Colombia 3rd Place

Colombia’s Luis Diaz celebrates after scoring the team’s third goal against Peru during their Conmebol 2021 Copa America football tournament third-place match at the Mane Garrincha Stadium in Brasilia, Brazil, on July 9, 2021. – Colombia won the match 3-2. (Photo by EVARISTO SA / AFP)

 

 

Luis Diaz scored a sensational winner with virtually the last kick of the match as Colombia beat Peru 3-2 in Brasilia on Friday to finish third in the Copa America.

The goal was the 24-year-old Porto forward’s second of the match and came just 10 minutes after Gianluca Lapadula looked to have sent the game into a penalty shoot-out.

It was a thrilling encounter that ebbed and flowed, with Yoshimar Yotun giving Peru a first half lead before Colombia captain Juan Cuadrado equalized early in the second period.

 

Colombia’s team poses on the podium with their medals and trophy after defeating Peru 3-2 in their Conmebol 2021 Copa America football tournament third-place match at the Mane Garrincha Stadium in Brasilia, Brazil, on July 9, 2021. (Photo by EVARISTO SA / AFP)

 

“We’re happy, it was important to finish by winning,” said Cuadrado, whose side lost their semi-final on penalties to Lionel Messi’s Argentina, who play Neymar’s Brazil in Saturday’s final.

“I’m happy with how we reacted (to going behind) and how we went after the result.”

Colombia had the better start and piled on early pressure but Peru held firm despite the ball often pinging around in their box.

And Peru even had the first clear chance on 28 minutes when Christian Cueva’s clever pass found Lapadula, but under pressure from a defender he fired narrowly wide from just inside the box.

 

Colombia’s Luis Diaz (L) celebrates after scoring the team’s thrid goal against Peru during their Conmebol 2021 Copa America football tournament third-place match at the Mane Garrincha Stadium in Brasilia, Brazil, on July 9, 2021. – Colombia won the match 3-2. (Photo by EVARISTO SA / AFP)

 

Diaz had a chance for Colombia but fired straight at goalkeeper Pedro Gallese.

On 40 minutes Sergio Pena left Colombia’s centre back Oscar Murillo on the floor with a clever turn, rounded goalkeeper Camilo Vargas but blazed well over the bar from a tight angle.

Peru got the lead they deserved just before the break as Cueva’s precise pass and Lapadula’s clever run took out four defenders to set up Yotun for an emphatic finish.

Colombia were back level just four minutes after the break as Cuadrado fired a free-kick through a disintegrating wall and past Gallese at his near post.

Alexander Callens had given away the free-kick on the edge of the box with a clumsy challenge and compounded his error by jumping away from his fellow members of the wall to create the gap that Cuadrado exploited.

Colombia’s tails were up and Cuadrado’s cross picked out man-of-the-match Diaz whose acrobatic overhead kick was parried over by Gallese.

The game opened up and the dangerous Lapadula cut inside a defender on the right before firing in a left-foot shot that clipped the bar as it went over.

It was end-to-end stuff with the goalkeepers playing a role in launching long-range attacks.

Gallese picked out Cueva to run at goal only for a Wilmar Barrios bodycheck to stop him in his tracks.

 

Colombia’s Luis Diaz (covered) celebrates with teammates after scoring the team’s thrid goal against Peru during their Conmebol 2021 Copa America football tournament third-place match at the Mane Garrincha Stadium in Brasilia, Brazil, on July 9, 2021. – Colombia won the match 3-2. (Photo by EVARISTO SA / AFP)

 

But then Vargas launched a long ball up field for Diaz to scamper away and beat Gallese with a rasping finish on 66 minutes.

Lapadula looked to have sent the match to penalties eight minutes from time when he rose almost unopposed to head home a Raziel Garcia corner from six yards out.

But Diaz had the last word with a stunning strike from 25 yards that Gallese could only get his fingertips to as it rifled into the top corner.

Keeper Martinez Sends Argentina Into Copa Final Against Brazil


Argentina’s players celebrate at the end of the Conmebol 2021 Copa America football tournament semi-final match against Colombia at the Mane Garrincha Stadium in Brasilia, Brazil, on July 6, 2021. EVARISTO SA / AFP

 

Goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez was the hero as Argentina defeated Colombia on penalties on Tuesday to set up a dream Copa America final against Brazil.

Argentina stopper Martinez saved three penalties in the shoot-out after a bruising 1-1 draw in Brasilia.

Hosts Brazil beat Peru 1-0 in Monday’s first semi-final meaning their star forward Neymar will line up against Lionel Messi’s Argentina on Saturday at Rio de Janeiro’s iconic Maracana stadium.

Two years ago a Brazil team missing the injured Neymar knocked out Argentina in the semi-finals before winning their ninth Copa title on home soil.

For Messi, 34, time is running out to win a first major international title with his national team, having previously lost in three Copa finals and the 2014 World Cup final.

For once he wasn’t his country’s main hero, although he did create the opening goal for Lautaro Martinez on seven minutes, before Luis Diaz equalized just after the hour mark.

In the shoot-out, goalkeeper Martinez three times dived to his left to save penalties from center-backs Davinson Sanchez and Yerry Mina, as well as midfielder Edwin Cardona.

And although Rodrigo De Paul skied his penalty for Argentina, Messi — who finished with blood seeping visibly from his left ankle  — was amongst the scorers to give them a 3-2 victory on spot-kicks.

Saving penalties “is a question of luck and today it was my turn to be the glorious one,” said Martinez.

“We said it the first day, we want to play the final and what better than playing Brazil on their pitch.”

Argentina and Colombia were actually supposed to be joint hosts but South American football’s governing body CONMEBOL switched venues at the 11th hour due to the coronavirus pandemic and social unrest in Colombia.

Despite the defeat, Colombia coach Reinaldo Rueda was feeling positive, saying their performance “invites us to dream, to think we’re on the right path.”

“We should lift our heads, look each other in the eyes and know we have nothing to reproach ourselves about,” he added.

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Fast Argentina start

Argentina’s goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez (L) and Argentina’s Lionel Messi celebrate at the end of the Conmebol 2021 Copa America football tournament semi-final match against Colombia at the Mane Garrincha Stadium in Brasilia, Brazil, on July 6, 2021. EVARISTO SA / AFP

 

Messi produced some early magic to beat three players and cross for Martinez to head wide.

Colombia didn’t heed the warning and on seven minutes, Giovanni Lo Celso found Messi in the box, the diminutive star held off the giant Mina and picked out Martinez to fire into the far corner.

Colombia almost hit back immediately but goalkeeper Martinez was down quickly to keep out Juan Cuadrado’s low strike.

After Argentina’s fast start, Colombia started to dominate and Cuadrado sent a free-kick just over the bar.

The Cafeteros cranked up the pressure and hit the woodwork twice in quick succession.

After Wilmar Barrios’s half-volley deflected off Lo Celso’s hand and struck the post, Mina headed the resulting corner onto the bar.

But Argentina were a whisker away from doubling their advantage on the stroke of half-time when Nicolas Gonzalez powered a header from a Messi corner goalwards, with Colombia goalkeeper David Ospina somehow scooping the ball over the bar.

Di Maria impact 


Colombia’s goalkeeper David Ospina (L) and Argentina’s Angel Di Maria vie for the ball during their Conmebol 2021 Copa America football tournament semi-final match at the Mane Garrincha Stadium in Brasilia, Brazil, on July 6, 2021. SILVIO AVILA / AFP

Colombia remained the better side after the break with Duvan Zapata having a shot blocked and substitute Miguel Borja firing wide.

But they deservedly equalized on 61 minutes when Cardona took a quick free-kick from inside his own half and sent Diaz scampering away to hold off German Pezzella and dink a clever finish over Martinez.

Argentina brought on Angel Di Maria for Gonzalez and the tricky winger immediately brought more urgency to his side’s attack.

But Di Maria and Martinez contrived to butcher a glorious chance to give Argentina the lead again.

Daniel Munoz’s wayward back pass sent Di Maria scampering towards goal. He dribbled round Ospina and teed up Martinez whose shot was blocked on the line by Barrios before Di Maria blazed the rebound over.

Di Maria then played in Messi who thudded a shot off the post before De Paul’s follow up was charged down by Sanchez.

Messi shot a late free-kick into the wall but after the 90 minutes were up, it was Martinez who took center stage.

AFP

Messi Scores, Bags Two Assists As Argentina Beat Ecuador In Copa America

Argentina’s Lionel Messi (unseen) celebrates with teammates after scoring against Ecuador during their Conmebol 2021 Copa America football tournament quarter-final match at the Olympic Stadium in Goiania, Brazil, on July 3, 2021. NELSON ALMEIDA / AFP

 

Lionel Messi scored one goal and created two others as Argentina beat Ecuador 3-0 in Goiania on Saturday to reach the Copa America semi-finals.

In Tuesday’s last four match, the 14-time winners will play Colombia, who beat Uruguay on penalties earlier in the day.

Messi teed up goals for Rodrigo De Paul and Lautaro Martinez before firing home an injury time free-kick to cap a stunning individual performance.

The scoreline was harsh on Ecuador, who ended the game with 10 men after Pedro Hicapie’s dismissal but had been competitive throughout.

“The truth is it was a very tough match. We knew the difficulty of playing Ecuador, who work hard with players who are fast, physically strong, young,” said Messi.

“It was a battle until we managed the (second) goal.”

Argentina made a bright start and Martinez almost opened the scoring with a moment of brilliance. He chipped the ball over goalkeeper Hernan Galindez and then volleyed goalwards, only for Robert Arboldea to block the ball on the line.

Moments later Martinez had a shot deflected wide and from the resulting corner, German Pezzella volleyed into the side netting.

Carlos Gruezo almost gifted Argentina a goal when his attempted back pass sent Messi clean through with only Galindez to beat, but the six-time Ballon d’Or winner saw his shot cannon back off the post.

Up the other end, goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez had to be alert to parry a stunning 20-yard volley by Sebastian Mendez.

Argentina had their own let off seven minutes from half-time when Pervis Estupinan crossed from the left and Enner Valencia’s flicked header narrowly evaded the sliding Alan Franco at the back post.

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Messi takes control 

Argentina’s Lionel Messi (R) celebrates with Argentina’s Angel Di Maria after scoring against Ecuador during their Conmebol 2021 Copa America football tournament quarter-final match at the Olympic Stadium in Goiania, Brazil, on July 3, 2021. DOUGLAS MAGNO / AFP

 

Two minutes later Argentina were in front, with Messi the architect.

First he played in Nicolas Gonzalez on goal but when he was tackled by Galindez, Messi reacted quickest and teed up De Paul to score.

There was still time before the break for Galindez to make an incredible double save from Gonzalez, before Valencia somehow headed wide from six yards out.

After the break, Valencia remained Ecuador’s most likely route back into the match and the livewire forward’s near post shot hit Martinez’s leg before going behind.

A wicked Estupinan cross was then almost turned into his own net by Gonzalez.

Messi came close to killing off the tie but his curled effort sailed just past the post, while Aston Villa goalkeeper Martinez denied substitute Gonzalo Plata an equaliser with a near-post block.

Inter Milan forward Martinez finally ended Ecuador’s resistence six minutes from time from Messi’s pass after Hincapie was caught in possession by Angel Di Maria.

And Hincapie completed a miserable few minutes as he was dismissed in injury time after dragging back substitute Di Maria when clean through, with Messi despatching the free-kick.

Record-breaker Ospina


Colombia’s goalkeeper David Ospina dives to stop the penalty shot by Uruguay’s Jose Maria Gimenez during their Conmebol 2021 Copa America football tournament quarter-final match at the Mane Garrincha Stadium in Brasilia, Brazil, on July 3, 2021. EVARISTO SA / AFP

 

Goalkeeper David Ospina was the hero as Colombia beat Uruguay on penalties in Brasilia.

Ospina saved two spot-kicks in the shoot-out on the day he earned his 112th Colombian cap, moving clear of the previous national record he shared with the iconic Carlos Valderrama.

He dedicated the victory to his civil strife-torn country that would have been one of the twin hosts alongside Argentina before South American football’s governing body CONMEBOL moved the tournament to Brazil over coronavirus pandemic concerns and social unrest in Colombia.

“We just want to give joy to our country, a country we want to be full of peace, full of people sharing and enjoying, because we have a beautiful country,” said Ospina, 32.

There was little to report in a drab 0-0 draw over the regulation 90 minutes before the quarter-final tie went straight to penalties.

Ospina saved from Jose Gimenez and Matias Vina while Colombia scored all four of their penalties.

It was a huge disappointment for Uruguay’s star forward pair Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez, who both converted their spot-kicks but almost certainly have played in their last Copa.

On Friday, Brazil beat Chile 1-0 to reach Monday’s semi-final against Peru, who defeated Paraguay 4-3 on penalties after an eventful 3-3 draw that saw both sides finish with 10 men.

AFP

Messi At The Double As Argentina Trounce Bolivia In Copa America

Argentina’s Lautaro Martinez (L) shoots to score agaiinst Bolivia’s goalkeeper Carlos Lampe during the Conmebol Copa America 2021 football tournament group phase match, at the Arena Pantanal Stadium in Cuiaba, Brazil, on June 28, 2021. (Photo by SILVIO AVILA / AFP)

 

 

Lionel Messi celebrated his record 148th international cap with two goals as Argentina trounced Bolivia 4-1 to clinch top spot in Copa America Group A on Monday.

Messi — who had equalled Javier Mascherano’s Argentinian caps record of 147 last week — marked his 148th appearance in style, setting up the opening goal before bagging a brace of his own.

The victory at Cuiaba’s Arena Pantanal stadium sees Argentina advance to a quarter-final on Saturday against Ecuador, the fourth-placed finishers from Group B.

Bolivia, who had already been eliminated after three defeats in their opening three games, were outclassed from the outset by a rampant Argentina.

The Argentines almost took the lead after three minutes, only for Bolivia goalkeeper Carlos Lampe to pull off a remarkable double save from Sergio Aguero and Angel Correa in quick succession.

But Argentina did not have to wait long for the breakthrough, when Messi’s delightful chipped pass released Papu Gomez who volleyed past Lampe to make it 1-0 after six minutes.

Argentina doubled their lead on 33 minutes when Gomez was brought down in the area by Bolivia’s Diego Bejarano.

Messi duly stepped up to convert the penalty to put Argentina firmly in control.

 

Argentina’s Lionel Messi runs with the ball during warm-up before the Conmebol Copa America 2021 football tournament group phase match between Bolivia and Argentina at the Arena Pantanal Stadium in Cuiaba, Brazil, on June 28, 2021. (Photo by DOUGLAS MAGNO / AFP)

 

Bolivia got their first shot on goal shortly afterwards, Jeyson Chura’s ferocious long-range effort forcing Argentina goalkeeper Franco Armani into a diving save at full stretch.

But Argentina reasserted their dominance and it was Messi who made it 3-0, latching on to a clever lofted pass from new Barcelona team-mate Aguero and lobbing a cheeky finish over the advancing Lampe.

Bolivia pulled a goal back in the 60th minute with a cleverly worked move, Chura’s deft back heel releasing Leonel Justiniano down the right flanke who crossed for Erwin Saavedra to score.

Argentina responded swiftly though, substitute Lautaro Martinez tapping in from close range in the 65th minute just two minutes after coming on for Aguero.

In Monday’s other Group A game, Uruguay clinched second place in the table after downing Paraguay 1-0 in Rio de Janeiro.

Edinson Cavani’s first half spot kick proved decisive for ‘La Celeste’, sending Uruguay into a quarter-final against Colombia on Saturday.

Paraguay finished third and will now play Peru on Friday. Chile, who finished fourth in Group A, face a daunting task against hosts Brazil on Friday.

Cavani Scores As Uruguay Record First Win In 2021 Copa America


(L-R) Uruguay’s Matias Vecino, Federico Valverde, Nicolas de la Cruz and Edinson Cavani celebrate after an own goal by Bolivia’s goalkeeper Carlos Lampe after a rebound with teammate Jairo Quinteros during their Conmebol Copa America 2021 football tournament group phase match at the Arena Pantanal Stadium in Cuiaba, Brazil, on June 24, 2021. SILVIO AVILA / AFP

 

Edinson Cavani scored his 52nd goal for Uruguay on Thursday in a 2-0 Copa America victory over Bolivia, who became the first team eliminated from the competition.

Bolivia goalkeeper Carlos Lampe scored an unlucky own goal to open the scoring but at times almost single-handedly kept his side in the game.

Paraguay went second in group A behind Argentina with a 2-0 win over Chile, who dropped to third with Uruguay fourth.

The result left Bolivia unable to catch any of the teams above them, who have all qualified for the quarter-finals.

“The appearance of Covid weakened us. We’ve played well, we tried to play without making mistakes but we didn’t have any luck,” complained Bolivia coach Cesar Farias.

A first-half header from Braian Samudio and second half Miguel Almiron penalty gave Paraguay a second victory in three matches.

With one match left, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay can still win Group A, while Brazil, who controversially beat Ecuador 2-1 on Wednesday, have already wrapped up top spot in Group B.

Colombia have also qualified for the quarter-finals but one of Peru, Ecuador and Venezuela will miss out.

Uruguay thoroughly deserved their first victory of this year’s tournament as they dominated throughout in Cuiaba, registering 22 shots to Bolivia’s four.

“The scoreline doesn’t reflect our dominance but we’re satisfied,” said Uruguay’s 74-year-old coach Oscar Tabarez, who added “we didn’t make any mistakes in defense.”

“Bolivia didn’t have any clear chances so we’re happy. It’s nothing to celebrate but we’re satisfied with the way we played and controled the match.”

Lampe a shining example


Uruguay’s Luis Suarez is marked by Bolivia’s players during their Conmebol Copa America 2021 football tournament group phase match at the Arena Pantanal Stadium in Cuiaba, Brazil, on June 24, 2021. DOUGLAS MAGNO / AFP

 

Uruguay’s star veterans Cavani and Suarez — the two most prolific forwards in Uruguay’s history — were a menace to the Bolivian backline throughout the match, even if they didn’t always have their shooting boots on.

At one point, the pair somehow contrived to make a mess of two-on-one situation, delaying shooting opportunities and allowing Lampe to come out and swat the ball off Cavani’s toes.

By then Uruguay’s Giorgian De Arrascaeta had fired over while Lampe had rushed out quickly to smother a Suarez effort.

Rodrigo Ramallo had Bolivia’s best first half chance, getting in behind the Uruguayan backline before fizzing a shot inches wide from an angle.

Suarez hit the side-netting with a header and Lampe dived full stretch to tip his freekick around the post.

In between, Uruguay took the lead as De Arrascaeta crossed from the right and a sliding Jairo Quinteros, in trying to prevent either of the veteran forwards converting a simple tap-in, deflected the ball off Lampe and into his own net on 40 minutes.

Lampe was in the thick of things after the break, making a reaction save from Cavani’s poke from seven yards, tipping a fierce drive from Rodrigo Betancur over the bar, and scampering backwards to parry a Suarez lob from close to halfway.

His opposite number, Fernando Muslera was rarely called into action but he did have to tip a long-range strike from Ramiro Vaca over the woodwork.

Having earlier header over when well placed, Manchester United’s Cavani finally ended Bolivia’s resistance 11 minutes from time, converting a cross from Facundo Torres, who put in a lively cameo off the bench, twice firing narrowly wide.

In Brasilia, Samudio rose above two defenders to power a header from Almiron’s corner into the top corner on 33 minutes, leaving goalkeeper Claudio Bravo rooted to his line.

Chile’s hopes of getting back into the match suffered a blow when Gary Medel was penalized for clambering all over Carlos Gonzalez in the box, allowing Almiron to send goalkeeper Claudio Bravo the wrong way from the penalty spot on 58 minutes.

Moments later it looked as if Paraguay would have a second penalty when Pablo Galdames appeared to rugby tackle Almiron, but incredibly it wasn’t given, even after a VAR check.

AFP

Argentina, Chile Through To Copa America Quarter-Final

Argentina’s Lionel Messi, Argentina’s Joaquin Correa and Argentina’s Angel Correa react at the end of the Conmebol Copa America 2021 football tournament group phase match between Argentina and Paraguay at the Mane Garrincha Stadium in Brasilia on June 21, 2021. (Photo by NELSON ALMEIDA / AFP)

 

Argentina and Chile on Monday booked their places in the Copa America quarter-finals, ending top of Group A after low-scoring matches that left the other two spots up for grabs.

Argentina logged its second win in three group matches played, beating Paraguay 1-0, with Alejandro “Papu” Gomez scoring the sole goal of a lacklustre match in Brasilia in the ninth minute.

The win placed Lionel Messi’s La Albiceleste top of Group A with seven points — enough to secure its spot in the next phase of the tournament being played in empty stadiums in coronavirus-battered Brazil.

The match marked a personal milestone for Messi, who tied Javier Mascherano’s record for the most games played for Argentina — 147.

But it was not a night of glory for Messi or his team, who in the second half seemed to resign themselves to defending a spirited, but ultimately fruitless, Paraguayan attack.

In the other match Monday, Chile drew 1-1 with Uruguay to end the day with five log points.

With four matches left to play in Group A, Paraguay has three points, Uruguay one, and Bolivia zero, meaning they all still stand a theoretical chance to go to the quarter-finals.

Brazil has already qualified from Group B.

 

Uruguay’s Luis Suarez (L) and Chile’s goalkeeper Claudio Bravo greet at the end of their Conmebol Copa America 2021 football tournament group phase match at the Pantanal Arena in Cuiaba, Brazil, on June 21, 2021. (Photo by DOUGLAS MAGNO / AFP)

 

Despite opposition from politicians and citizens, Brazil agreed at the 11th hour to host the world’s oldest international tournament after South American football’s governing body CONMEBOL took it from co-hosts Argentina, battling a pandemic surge, and Colombia where dozens have died in anti-government protests.

The contest had already been delayed by a year due to the pandemic and many players and coaches spoke out against it going ahead before the tournament began.

The build-up to Monday’s Chile-Uruguay game had been overshadowed by controversy in the Chile camp after revelations the team had breached Covid-19 protocols by bringing a local hairdresser into the team hotel.

CONMEBOL said it would fine those involved $30,000.

However there was no sign of the controversy affecting their play, with Vargas firing Chile ahead on 26 minutes from a tight angle after latching onto a clever pass from English-born Ben Brereton.

Uruguay grabbed a share of the points in the second-half when Suarez bundled in the ball from close range during a tangle with former Barcelona team-mate Arturo Vidal at the far post following a corner.

Manchester United striker Edinson Cavani almost snatched victory for Uruguay in the 85th minute, but his glancing header flashed just wide of the post.

Vargas’s first-half strike saw him draw level with Peru’s Paolo Guerrero on 14 goals in the Copa America’s all-time goalscoring rankings, three behind the record of 17 held by Brazil’s Zizinho and Argentina’s Norberto Mendez.

AFP

CONMEBOL Announce Brazil As New Copa America Host

(FILES) In this file photo taken on December 03, 2019, Brazilian former footballer Juninho Paulista presents the Copa America trophy on the stage during the draw of the Copa America 2020 football tournament at the Convention Centre in Cartagena, Colombia. Juan BARRETO / AFP

 

South America’s largest football tournament, the Copa America, was moved Monday to Brazil after a Covid-19 surge in Argentina and social unrest in Colombia saw the co-hosts stripped of the right to host the event.

With two weeks to kickoff, South America’s CONMEBOL football federation tweeted that “The CONMEBOL Copa America 2021 will be played in Brazil!” and the June 13-July 10 dates were maintained.

CONMEBOL is expected to announce the venues and dates of matches in the coming hours.

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File photo: Brazil’s Dani Alves (C) and teammates celebrates with the trophy after winning the Copa America after defeating Peru in the final match of the football tournament at Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on July 7, 2019. Carl DE SOUZA / AFP

 

Brazil hosted the last Copa America, in 2019.

Originally scheduled for last year, the Copa was postponed by 12 months due to the coronavirus epidemic.

New host Brazil is one of the countries in the world worst affected by the outbreak, with the second-highest death toll of over 460,000 so far and more than 16.5 million cases.

It was to have been the first time in its history that the tournament would be co-hosted by two countries, Argentina and Colombia.

But ten days ago, CONMEBOL stripped Colombia of its duties amid street protests that were met with a heavy-handed police response that drew international condemnation. More than a month into the unrest, dozens of people have died.

On Sunday, CONMEBOL also stripped Argentina of hosting rights in the context of a record coronavirus surge, with more than 77,000 deaths in the pandemic to date and nearly 3.8 million infections.

AFP

Argentina Suspended From Hosting COPA America

(FILES) In this file photo taken on December 03, 2019 Brazilian former footballer Juninho Paulista presents the Copa America trophy on the stage during the draw of the Copa America 2020 football tournament at the Convention Centre in Cartagena, Colombia. 
Juan BARRETO / AFP

 

Argentina’s hosting of the Copa America football tournament has been suspended “in view of the current circumstances,” CONMEBOL said on Sunday, as the country endures a record coronavirus surge.

The South American football body, which last week stripped Colombia of co-hosting duties over deadly unrest, said it was considering other offers to hold the tournament.

“CONMEBOL informs that in view of the current circumstances it has decided to suspend the organization of the Copa America in Argentina,” the governing body tweeted.

“CONMEBOL is evaluating the offer of other countries that showed interest in hosting the continental tournament.”

The Copa America was originally due to take place last year, but was postponed for 12 months because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Officials are expected to meet on Monday to decide on the next move for hosting the tournament.

An Argentine poll published on Friday found that most respondents were against holding the tournament as the country experiences its worst phase of the pandemic so far.

Less than two weeks before Copa America’s scheduled start, Argentina is under a nine-day lockdown and experiencing record daily infections.

The Fernandez administration was hoping that the lockdown that began on May 22 would flatten the curve of infections ahead of the sports event.

Argentina had presented its “strict protocol” to CONMEBOL to host the tournament in its entirety, which involved preparing additional stadiums.

On May 20 CONMEBOL rejected a plea by Colombia to further delay the June 13-July 10 tournament following a wave of protests and social unrest, coupled with an upsurge in Covid-19 cases.

It left Argentina as the sole host, but a survey conducted by pollsters Poliarquia among a representative sample of 1,274 city-dwelling adults, found that 70 percent believe the country should withdraw.

Only 20 percent believed the championship should continue on Argentine soil, and 10 percent were undecided.

-AFP

No Postponement For Copa America, Federation Says After Colombia Withdraws


Street artists paint a graffiti reading ‘No Copa America’ at a wall of the Campin Stadium during a protest against Colombia hosting the Copa America soccer tournament in Bogota, on May 19, 2021, as the country faces its worst political and civil crisis in recent history. DANIEL MUNOZ / AFP

 

South American football’s governing body CONMEBOL on Thursday rejected a request by Colombia to postpone the Copa America 2021 tournament it is co-hosting with Argentina.

The games that were to be played in Colombia in the June 13-July 10 event will instead be moved to Argentina, CONMEBOL said, stating that it was “impossible” to move the event to November as authorities in Bogota requested.

The federation statement cited “reasons relating to the international calendar and logistics of the tournament.”


Street artists paint a graffiti reading ‘No Copa America’ at a wall of the Campin Stadium during a protest against Colombia hosting the Copa America soccer tournament in Bogota, on May 19, 2021, as the country faces its worst political and civil crisis in recent history.  DANIEL MUNOZ / AFP

 

Colombia is in the midst of a wave of street protests and social unrest that has resulted in 42 deaths. Covid-19 cases have also shot up in the last weeks.

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Large and sometimes violent anti-government demos have been taking place in Bogota, Medellin and Cali — cities where Copa America games were set to be played.

On May 13 a Copa Libertadores South American club tournament game in Barranquilla was suspended five times as clouds of tear gas used to break up demos outside the stadium wafted in and affected the players.

In Argentina, President Alberto Fernandez said earlier that his country would be ready to fully host the games if Colombia backs out.

But Argentina is dealing with the worst phase yet of the Covid-19 pandemic — and late Thursday Fernandez announced that Argentina will go into total lockdown for nine days to control the spread of the virus.


Street artists perform during a protest against Colombia hosting the Copa America football tournament outside El Campin Stadium in Bogota, on May 19, 2021, as the country faces its worst political and civil crisis in recent history. DANIEL MUNOZ / AFP

 

The Copa America tournament, like the European Championship, was due to take place last year but was postponed by 12 months due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Two guest nations, Australia and Qatar, pulled out of the tournament in February due to a clash with World Cup qualifying dates.

AFP

Gabriel Jesus Gets Two-Month International Ban

Manchester City’s Brazilian striker Gabriel Jesus scores the winning penalty in the shoot-out during the English FA Community Shield football match between Manchester City and Liverpool at Wembley Stadium in north London on August 4, 2019. Adrian DENNIS / AFP

 

Brazil forward Gabriel Jesus has been hit with a two month international ban over his dismissal in last month’s Copa America final, South America’s football governing body announced.

The 22-year-old Manchester City striker scored in the 3-1 victory over Peru that gave hosts Brazil a ninth victory in the continental showpiece, but was given his marching orders 20 minutes from time for a second booking.

He protested bitterly before eventually leaving the field in tears, making obscene hand gestures, angrily kicking a water bottle and almost knocking over the VAR booth.

“The player is suspended for official matches and friendlies with his national team during this period,” said CONMEBOL in a statement late on Wednesday.

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Jesus was also fined $30,000 and given seven days to appeal, while the Brazilian federation was hit with a $15,000 penalty for its players’ behaviour.

Jesus had been a livewire in the first half against Peru, with an outrageous drag-back creating space so he could cross for Everton to open the scoring.

With almost the last kick of the half, he restored Brazil’s lead following Peru captain Paolo Guerrero’s equaliser from the spot.

But he was left distraught after picking up a second booking for a late challenge on Peru’s Christian Cueva.

It means he will miss two friendlies in the United States next month against Colombia and Peru.

But he will be available in March when World Cup 2022 qualifying begins.

AFP