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Copa America: Argentina enter last eight; Colombia win again

June 24, 2019 09:58 IST

Argentina's win, their first after a loss to Colombia and a draw with Paraguay, leaves them in second place in Group B on four points behind group winners Colombia, who beat Paraguay 1-0.

IMAGE: Sergio Aguero, right, celebrates with Lionel Messi after scoring Argentina's second goal. Photograph: Henry Romero/Reuters

An early goal from Lautaro Martinez and a late second from Sergio Aguero gave Argentina a 2-0 win over Qatar on Sunday, a deserved victory that takes them into the Copa America quarter-finals to face Venezuela.

 

Argentina took the lead after three minutes when an atrocious pass out of defence went straight to Martinez, who made no mistake from 15 meters out.

The first half was an even affair with Martinez and Aguero missing good chances for Argentina and Bassam Alrawi clipping the post from a free kick for the Asian champions.

But even with Lionel Messi looking more spritely than in Argentina's first two games, it took them until the second half before they were able to seal the points.

With eight minutes remaining Aguero ran on to a through ball and angled a fine drive past the Qatari keeper.

"When we scored the first goal we just needed to keep our calm until the end and we were qualified," Martinez said. "We were playing a good team, we couldn't make a mess of it."

IMAGE: Sergio Aguero, centre, scores Argentina's second goal. Photograph: Ueslei Marcelino/Reuters

Argentina's win, their first after a loss to Colombia and a draw with Paraguay, leaves them in second place in Group B on four points behind group winners Colombia, who beat Paraguay 1-0.

They will now play Venezuela in Rio de Janeiro on Friday, while the other quarter-final ties will only be decided after Monday's final Group C matches.

"Now we need to stay focused and win the next game and keep progressing," Martinez said.

The top two teams in each group qualify for the knockout stage along with the two best third-placed sides.

Brazil and Venezuela qualified from Group A on Saturday and third place Peru will join them.

Group C will be decided on Monday when Chile play Uruguay and Ecuador take on Japan.

Relentless Colombia win again despite sweeping changes

IMAGE: Colombia's Juan Cuadrado, right, celebrates after Gustavo Cuellar scored their first goal . Photograph: Edgard Garrido/Reuters

Colombia enjoyed a 1-0 win over Paraguay despite fielding a second-string side to make it a clean sweep of victories in their Copa America group stage campaign, leaving Paraguay's hopes of staying in the tournament hanging by a thread.

Colombia were guaranteed a place in the last eight as Group B winners and made 10 changes from the side that beat Qatar in their last outing but still dominated play while Paraguay, who had to win to ensure they progressed, barely caused any danger.

Midfielder Gustavo Cuellar put Colombia ahead just after the half-hour mark, sliding the ball through the legs of Paraguay goalkeeper Roberto Fernandez, while Luis Diaz struck in the second half but the goal was ruled out by VAR.

The technology was used again in stoppage time to over-rule a penalty that had been awarded to Colombia, and coach Carlos Queiroz hit out at the way VAR has been implemented at the Copa America and the long delays it has caused.

"It's hard to think of things to say about VAR. Technology is vital to give credibility to football, we can all agree on that, but we disagree with the way it's being used," he told a news conference.

"Something has to change, because the fans are left confused and the players and coaches too. VAR was supposed to make football clearer and more objective but it's doing the opposite.

"We need to have a re-think for the good of football because the fans are not happy about it and neither are we."

Queiroz's side finished top of the group with nine points, while Argentina came second with four and also progressed to the quarter-finals after beating Qatar 2-0.

Paraguay are third on two, with Qatar last with one.

Paraguay, who reached the Copa America final in 2011 and semi-finals in 2015, must now hope Monday's game between Japan and Ecuador is drawn as victory for either side would send them out of the tournament.

Paraguay have long had a reputation as hard-nosed, physical opponents but coach Eduardo Berizzo has tried to change their style of play in favour of keeping possession and his side have largely struggled to adapt.

"Today our passing in midfield was sloppy and we couldn't attack with fluidity," Berizzo said, clinging on to the hope that his side could still sneak through to the last eight.

"I wish the game between Ecuador and Japan goes our way and then we will try and play completely different from the quarter-finals onwards."

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