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Rediff.com  » Sports » Copa America: US, Uruguay win opening matches

Copa America: US, Uruguay win opening matches

Last updated on: June 24, 2024 10:03 IST
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Christian Pulisic (No. 10) celebrates putting the United States ahead during the 2024 Copa America match against Bolivia at AT&T stadium, Texas, on Sunday.

IMAGE: Christian Pulisic (No. 10) celebrates scoring his 30th goal in 69 internationals and putting the United States ahead during the 2024 Copa America match against Bolivia at AT&T stadium, Texas, on Sunday. Photograph: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

A third-minute goal from Christian Pulisic set the United States on their way to a 2-0 victory over Bolivia in their Group C opener at the Copa America on Sunday.

Folarin Balogun added the second shortly before half-time and while the tournament hosts pushed for more goals in the second half they were unable to add to their tally.

 

"The message to the team is it's always important to win your first game," US coach Gregg Berhalter said.

"We talked about progressing our performance, improving our performance throughout the tournament, so I think it was a good starting point."

The US were aggressive right from the start against Bolivia, who have just one win in their last 31 Copa America matches.

A missed opportunity by Balogun in the first 20 seconds was soon forgotten when Pulisic scored a spectacular goal from the edge of the box, beating Bolivian keeper Guillermo Viscarra.

It was Pulisic's 30th goal in 69 international matches. His first came against Bolivia in May 2016.

The US doubled their lead in the 44th minute when Pulisic found Balogun and the striker ended his six-match goal drought in international matches with a low shot into the bottom corner.

The hosts continued their onslaught with Ricardo Pepi, who came on as a substitute in the 65th minute, denied four times by Viscarra.

"We tried to recover but of course, after the goal in minute three, it all went down the hill," Bolivia coach Antonio Carlos Zago told reporters.

"We should have competed a bit more, but we need to be aware that we had the host team in front of us. They are a strong national team and I am really happy with the effort made by the players."

The US next face CONCACAF rivals Panama on Thursday in Atlanta, while Uruguay will take on Bolivia in New Jersey.

Uruguay have it easy against Panama

Uruguay forward Darwin Nunez (No. 19) celebrates after scoring against Panama in Florida.

IMAGE: Uruguay forward Darwin Nunez (No. 19) celebrates after scoring against Panama in Florida. Photograph: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

Maximilian Araujo, Darwin Nunez and Matias Vina scored as Uruguay beat Panama 3-1 in their Group C match in Florida later on Sunday.

Uruguay's win saw them move level with the United States on three points.

The US beat Bolivia 2-0 in the day's other Group C match.

Marcelo Bielsa's Uruguay, who have won the Copa America a joint record 15 times, were rewarded for their blistering early pace when Araujo fired home a sublime curling effort from the edge of the area in the 16th minute.

Panama grew into the match after the break and wasted several chances to get themselves back into the contest.

Jose Fajardo blasted an effort wide in the 52nd minute after a defensive error by Mathias Olivera, while Jose Rodriguez tested Uruguay goalkeeper Sergio Rochet with a ferocious shot from range.

Asked what he said to his team at halftime, Panama coach Thomas Christiansen told reporters: "I told them they have to be fearless.

"That they have to increase their level of confidence. That they are capable to do what they did in the second half. And after the goal, like Uruguay, we generated opportunities."

Uruguay were on the ropes for much of the second half but Nunez, who had already missed a string of chances, settled their nerves in the 85th minute with a coolly-taken volley into the bottom corner after a rebound dropped kindly for him.

In a frenetic spell during stoppage time, Vina rose highest to head home Uruguay's third from a set-piece before Michael Amir Murillo netted a consolation goal for Panama after cutting back onto his left foot and curling his shot past Rochet.

Uruguay's all-time leading scorer Luis Suarez, 37, was an unused sub.

Uruguay next face Bolivia in New Jersey on Thursday, while Panama take on the United States in Atlanta.

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Source: REUTERS
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