Copa America – Day Four action round-up

After the tedium of two goalless games on Sunday, the Copa America was kick-started back into life as Group C got underway with two entertaining matches in San Juan. World Cup semi-finalists, and one of the favourites for the competition, Uruguay started their tournament against Peru. The Uruguayans had all their stars available, including the Golden Ball winner from South Africa, Diego Forlan, and the new darling of the Anfield Kop, Luis Suarez up front. Those two were joined by Edison Cavani to provide La Celeste with an exciting and creative forward line.

Peru, who finished bottom of the South American qualification group for the World Cup, were expected to rely heavily on Hamburger SV striker, Paolo Guerrero, particularly with Juan Manuel Vargas of Fiorentina only on the bench with worries over his fitness.

Uruguay started the match in confident fashion; Forlan the architect of the attacking play with some deft flicks and turns. However, Peru opened the scoring very much against the run of play midway through the first half. A long punt downfield saw Guerrero time his run to perfection to beat the offside trap. With half the field to run, the striker kept his composure well to round Fernando Muslera in the Uruguayan goal before stroking the ball into the net.

Peru would have been confident in keeping that lead on the back of five consecutive clean sheets, but they conceded right on the stroke of half time as Suarez capped off a delightful move with a neat finish under Raul Fernandez, giving Uruguay a deserved equaliser.

The second half was a much more even affair, with Peru coming into the game strongly in the closing half hour with the introduction of Vargas. The burly forward almost created a winner in the last minute with a delightful cross, but Guerrero put his diving header just wide and the game ended with honours even.

That result gave Chile the chance to take control of the group in the second match when they took on Mexico. The Mexicans, one of the two invited teams, have sent a mainly Under-23 squad to the tournament, following their recent CONCACAF Gold Cup triumph in the USA. Tottenham Hotspur’s Giovanni Dos Santos was in the team and was far and away the most experienced member of a side that included six debutants. Meanwhile, Chile featured two English based players in Gonzalo Jara of West Bromwich Albion and Jean Beausejour of Birmingham City. They also included Alexis Sanchez up front; the Udinese striker attracting attention from both Manchester clubs.

It was the youngsters from Mexico who took a shock lead just before half time when Chile only half cleared a corner and central midfielder Nestor Araujo looped a header over the keeper, Claudio Bravo. Chile struggled to get back into the game, despite a total domination of possession, until the introduction of substitute Esteban Parades on the hour. Within six minutes the Colo Colo striker delivered a typical poacher’s finish from a yard out to pull Chile level. On 72 minutes the comeback was complete as Arturo Vidal’s towering header from a corner gave Chile the winning goal and put them top of the group.

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