The Copa America Centenario is in full swing now with all of the opening games of the groups completed. Here is a full round-up of matchday one.
USA 0-2 Colombia
The tournament began last Friday when hosts America faced Colombia. The quickest opening goal of Copa America in 17 years spurred Colombia to a 2-0 win. Defender Cristian Zapata scored from Edwin Cardona’s corner kick in the eighth minute and James Rodriguez converted a penalty kick just before halftime, giving Los Cafeteros the goals they needed to take the first three points of Copa America Centenario.
Zapata scored his first career international goal when he broke free fromcenter back Geoff Cameron and fired the ball past goalkeeper Brad Guzan. Though the U.S. rallied with a decent attack that included a couple of quality shots from Clint Dempsey, the momentum swung back in Colombia’s favour in the 40th minute. Defender DeAndre Yedlin was adjudged to have handled the ball in the box when a cross hit his outstretched arm at the top of the area.Deliberate or not, a penalty kick was awarded and Rodriguez slotted his first-ever Copa America goal past Guzan to give Colombia a comfortable 2-0 lead. The States had a few chances in the second half but David Ospina dealt with them with relative ease.
Costa Rica 0-0 Paraguay
Paraguay and Costa Rica battled to a 0-0 draw in their Group A opener Saturday leaving each team with one point and second in the group behind Colombia after each team’s first match.Paraguay had created more chances in the first half, while Costa Rica came closest to scoring in the final 15 minutes. Los Ticos center back Kendall Waston was sent off deep into second half injury time for a reckless tackle on Paraguay substitute Nelson Valdez while halting a counterattack near midfield.
Haiti 0-1 Peru
Paolo Guerrero headed Edinson Flores’ pinpoint cross in the 60thminute, to give Peru the only goal required to defeat Haiti 1-0 in the Copa America Centenario Group B opener on Saturday.Guerrero, the tournament’s Golden Boot award winner in 2011 and 2015, scored his 11th goal in Copa America and scored his 27th career international goal, passing Teófilo Cubillas to become La Blanquirroja’s all-time leading scorer. Peru looked to be the better side throughout the game and deservedly take all three points from this encounter.
Brazil 0-0 Ecuador
Brazil and Ecuador played out a 0-0 draw on Saturday night in both teams’ Group B opener.Ecuador had an apparent goal disallowed by the referee in the 66th minute. Miler Bolanos’ cross was fumbled by Brazil goalkeeper Alisson at the near post and ended up in the back of the net, but it was ruled that the ball had passed out over the end line before the cross.Brazil went close to a winner in the 83rd minute, but a header by Lucas went wide of the goal. There wasn’t much between the two sides who have plenty of work left to do if they want to progress further in the competition.
Jamaica 0-1 Venezuela
Venezuela battled against a 10-man Jamaica side to win 1-0 on Sunday in the opening game of Group C. Jamaica created several early chances, most notably in the 11th minute, when Je-Vaughn Watson thundered a header against the crossbar.Just four minutes later, Venezuela took the lead by capitalizing on Jamaica losing possession near their own penalty area. Left back Rolf Feltscher knocked away a Michael Hector pass, initiating fine sequence of passes that resulted in Alejandro Guerra feeding Josef Martínez, whose diagonal run culminated in a low finish underneath the charging Andre Blake.Momentum continued to go Venezuela’s way with the biggest decision of the game coming in the 23rd minute, when Jamaican midfielder Rodolph Austin stretched to win a midfield challenge but his follow-through, caught Tomás Rincón with his studs, earning a straight red card from referee Victor Carrillo.
Mexico 3-1 Uruguay
Mexico and Uruguay played out a fascinating,goal filled game on Sunday night as El Tri produced an upset in defeating 15 times Copa America Champions Uruguay. An own goal in the fourth minute by Uruguay’s Alvaro Pereira put Mexico ahead but Uruguay’s attack got stronger despite being down a man for the whole second half. Midfielder Matias Vecino was dismissed for a second yellow card when he kicked Mexico’s Jesus Manuel Corona in the knee just before halftime.
Diego Godin equalized for Uruguay from a header off a set piece in the 74th minute to tie the game at 1-1, right after Mexico’s Andres Guardado was sent off. Captain Rafa Marquez fired home Mexico’s second from close range in the 85th minute. El Tri’s third goal came from Hector Herrera in second half injury time.
Panama 2-1 Bolivia
Blas Perez made sure Panama’s first-ever Copa America match was a success, scoring twice in their 2-1 win against Bolivia, the Group D opener for both sides on a rain-soaked Monday night.Panama took a 1-0 lead into halftime after Perez poked home a sliding kick off a pass from midfielder Alberto Quintero in the 11th minute. It was the culmination of a fast start for Los Canalero’s attack. Panama looked to secure all three points after leading 1-0 into the second half, but Bolivia leveled the game in the 54th minute. Juan Carlos Arce drove home an attempted clearance deflected to him by Panama defender Harold Cummings, off a long free kick from Martin Smedberg-Dalence. Just when it seemed a draw was certain, Perez controlled a cross from Abdiel Arroyo and slotted home the game-winner in the 87th minute.
Argentina 2-1 Chile
Argentina avenged last years Copa America final defeat to Chile on Monday night as Angel Di Maria inspired La Albiceleste to a 2-1 victory. Paris Saint-Germain forward Di Maria scored in the 51st minute and Ever Banega was supplied by the winger to extend the lead eight minutes later. Argentina were without Lionel Messi as the Barcelona superstar recovers from a back injury sustained in a friendly before the tournament began. Di Maria’s goal came from a Banega pass, who’d intercepted a pass and dribbled up-field before the assist. Banega gave La Albiceleste a cushion when his shot was slightly re-directed by Chile defender Mauricio Isla past goalkeeper Claudio Bravo. When he was taken off in the 80th minute Di Maria displayed a T-shirt with a message that read “Grandma I am going to miss you very much,” in Spanish in memory of his recently deceased Grandmother. Chile cut the lead in half when Jose Pedro Fuenzalida scored just before the final whistle, but the defending champions ran out of time.
Come back in a few days time for a full roundup of all the groups second games.