Rediff.com  » Sports » Copa America: Colombia stun Argentina

Copa America: Colombia stun Argentina

June 16, 2019 09:45 IST

 Duvan Zapata celebrates scoring Colombia's second goal against Argentina

IMAGE: Duvan Zapata celebrates scoring Colombia's second goal against Argentina in the Copa America match in Salvador, Brazil, on Saturday. Photograph: Rodolfo Buhrer/Reuters

Roger Martinez scored an outstanding goal as Colombia beat Argentina 2-0 in an exciting finale to a Copa America Group B opener on Saturday that burst into life after a sluggish start.

 

Just as Colombia looked like being overwhelmed by a dangerous-looking Argentina side, substitute Martinez controlled a cross-field ball on the left wing in the 71st minute before cutting across the area and smashing it into the far top corner.

His fellow substitute Duvan Zapata made doubly sure Colombia would record their first win over Argentina since 2007 by pouncing from close range to knock in a cross from Jefferson Lerma 15 minutes later.

"We knew that it was a long time since we beat Argentina and we're delighted," Zapata told reporters.

"We'll enjoy this, it's a great result but the tournament goes on and there are lot of difficult games to go."

Both sets of supporters whipped up a lively atmosphere at a near-full Arena Fonte Nova, providing a much-needed boost for tournament organisers CONMEBOL after over 40,000 seats were left empty in Peru's game with Venezuela earlier in the day.

The fans were struggling for anything to get excited about as the first half dragged on, however.

Colombia initially looked stronger but Argentina were a different beast when Rodrigo de Paul replaced Angel di Maria immediately after the interval and captain Lionel Messi was able to find space to cause some problems.

Lionel Messi and his Argentina team mates

IMAGE: Lionel Messi and his Argentina team mates react after the match. Photograph: Edgard Garrido/Reuters

Messi wasted the best chance of the game before Martinez's piledriver broke the deadlock when he skewed a rebound wide from close range, and the Barcelona forward also went on a thrilling solo run into the area but could not get a shot away.

A mass brawl ensued when Messi was cut down by Colombia's Juan Cuadrado in the second half while Argentina midfielder Leandro Paredes fizzed two shots at goal.

A goal from Lionel Scaloni's side looked imminent but Colombia's usual talisman James Rodriguez split their defence with an impressive long pass to Martinez, who had come on early in the game after Luis Muriel was forced off by injury.

Martinez's stunning strike floored Argentina and although they came back with a couple more attempts, they never looked like scoring.

"We were good in the first 20 mins then we had a bad end to the half,"," said Scaloni.

"We lost the ball a lot but in the second half we were very superior to Colombia. Then, when we were playing at our best, they scored on the counterattack."

The coach also complained about the state of the pitch, calling it "lamentable".

"But the thing I will take from the game is that we were able to adjust and improve in the second half," he added. "That might not sound like much but it will help us in our next games."

Argentina, who won the last of their 14 South American titles in 1993, face Paraguay in their second match in Belo Horizonte on Wednesday.

Colombia, Copa America champions once in 2001, top Group B with three points ahead of Qatar's meeting with Paraguay on Sunday. They next play the Qataris in Sao Paulo, also on Wednesday.

Venezuela, Peru in goalless draw

 Venezuela and Peru began their Copa America with a nervous 0-0 draw on Saturday in a match marked by two Peruvian goals chalked off after consultation with the Video Assistant Referee (VAR).

Christofer Gonzales’s 11th-minute goal was disallowed for offside earlier in the move and then Jefferson Farfan suffered the same fate 19 minutes into the second half after his header hit the net.

The game grew more tense after Venezuela had Luis Mago sent off with 16 minutes remaining.

Peru were unfortunate not to sneak all three points, with Venezuelan goalkeeper Wuilker Farinez making a superb reflex save to scoop the ball off the line in the closing minutes of the match.

"We are a bit upset because we think we deserved to win," said Peruvian captain Paulo Guerrero. "We just couldn’t find the last ball.

"We did what we could. All we lacked was a goal."

The first half was a stop-start affair but things improved in the second period as Peru imposed themselves on their opponents, one of only two South American sides never to win the Copa America.

The draw means both sides are tied in second place in Group A, behind host nation Brazil, who beat Bolivia 3-0 in the tournament’s opening match on Friday.

Peru now face Bolivia on Tuesday in the second round of matches and Brazil take on Venezuela the same day.

Source: source
© Copyright 2019 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.
SHARE THIS STORYCOMMENT