Uruguay wins first friendly match against Peru

Although friendly and without consequences, in the football match won by Uruguay against Peru 1-0 here the hosts got their own back for the last America Cup.

As it happened then, Peruvians cut the aspirations of the Urguguayan team by means of random penalties and prevented them from going to the quarterfinals in a clash that remained tied until overtime.

In this first clash between the two teams since the regional competition in Brazil, the Uruguayan team was the winner by the minimum difference, with a goal scored at 16 minutes by Brian Rodriguez, although the superiority in the game was clear.

Specialized commentators pointed out that the head coach knew how to easily hide the absences of Luis Suarez and Edison Cavani through the performances of Rodriguez, former Peñarol player, Brian Lozano and Maximiliano Gomez, among the young members of a group in renovation.

Also, the lack of the two star players who play in European teams, contributed to diminish the presence of the public at the Centennial Stadium, judging by the tickets sold on the eve of the show this Friday.

In the 2nd half of the match, the game began with a rhythm much more controlled by both contestants and before a constant rain that complicated passing the ball with precision.

For Tuesday, October 15, the second friendly clash is scheduled to be held in Lima with the purpose of measuring strength and winning fires in the face of the qualifiers for the World Cup.

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Brazil reach Copa semis with shootout win over Paraguay

Brazil reached the last four of the Copa America on Thursday with a 4-3 penalty shootout win over Paraguay after their compelling quarter-final in Porto Alegre ended scoreless.

Gabriel got the winning kick for Brazil after Gustavo Gomez and Derlis Gonzalez missed for the visitors. Roberto Firmino pulled his spot kick wide for the hosts.

Brazil, who have yet to concede a goal in their first four games, will next face the winner of Friday’s quarter-final between Argentina and Venezuela in Belo Horizonte next Tuesday.

Gabriel Jesus had missed a penalty against Peru in their last group game and said he went back to his tried and tested technique on Thursday.

"In the last game I didn’t look at the keeper and I hit it hard straight away and the goalie made a good save," he added.

"Today I did it my usual way, I looked calmly at the keeper and I could see him moving to the left and I side-footed it the other way."

After a foul strewn and unexciting first half, Brazil took control when Fabian Balbuena was sent off in the 58th minute for fouling Firmino as he bore down on goal.

The referee gave a penalty but changed it to a free kick on the edge of the area after consulting the video assistant referee (VAR).

The sending off then saw the home side lay siege to the Paraguayan goal but without joy, Everton seeing a shot deflected over the bar, Gabriel Jesus pulling a gilt-edged chance wide, and Willian hitting the post in the last minute.

"We created lots and lots of chances, the ball hit the woodwork, the goalkeeper worked miracles, but the fans helped us and we never gave up," said midfielder Arthur.

"We know what football is like, it’s about small details, and we couldn’t win but we felt the good energies and we managed to get through on penalties."

Goalkeeper Alisson, who like Arthur started his career in Porto Alegre, saluted his team mates.

"This is a team that deserved the win today," Alisson said.

"It was a draw but against a team that didn’t want to play unless it was on the counter attack. We’ve gone up one step, two more to go to our objective, to be Copa America champions."

In the other two quarter-finals, Colombia play Chile and Uruguay take on Peru.

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Agüero leads Argentina into Copa América last eight

Sergio Agüero fired Argentina into the last eight of the Copa América as they beat Qatar 2-0 to finish as Group B runners-up in Brazil.

The two-time world champions were on the brink of elimination after collecting just a point from their first two games but kept their quest for a first title since 1993 alive.

It took the South Americans just three minutes to open their account against the tournament debutants at Arena do Grêmio in Porto Alegre.

A sloppy defensive pass went straight to Lautaro Martinez who fired beyond Qatar goalkeeper Saad Al Sheeb from 15 yards.

Argentina dominated the match but invited side Qatar, the Asian champions, were almost level at the interval when Hassan Al-Haydos was a mere inches away from converting a cross at the back post.

The Albiceleste finally put the game to bed in the 82nd minute when Agüero made up for several squandered chances to rifle an effort across goal and into the back of the net.

Qatar's defeat sees them finish bottom of the group, with their only point coming in a fightback 2-2 draw with Paraguay.

James Rodriguez of Colombia competes for the ball with Santiago Arzamendia of Paraguay ©Getty Images
James Rodriguez of Colombia competes for the ball with Santiago Arzamendia of Paraguay ©Getty Images

Colombia had already claimed top spot in Group B ahead of their clash with Paraguay but made it three wins from three with a 1-0 win at Itaipava Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador.

A second-string side lined-up as Carlos Queiroz took the opportunity to rest players for the quarter-finals.

The only goal of the game came in the 31st minute when midfielder Gustavo Cuéllar slid the ball under Paraguay goalkeeper Roberto Fernández.

Luis Díaz thought he had doubled the lead in the second half but the goal was ruled out after a Video Assistant Referee review.

Paraguay, who have two points, face a nervy wait to find out if they have done enough to progress out of Group B with one of the two best third-placed records.

They will only go through if tomorrow's Group C match between Japan and Ecuador is a draw.

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Colombia come to life in second half to beat Argentina 2-0

Before the opener in Salvador, Colombia had a dismal record against Argentina, having failed to beat them in the last 12 years.

But they did not let the past dictate their performance at Fonte Nova Arena, convincingly outplaying the Albiceleste for a 2-0 victory.

The first-half proved unmemorable as neither side had a shot on target, with Lionel Scaloni's men particularly lacking tempo and struggling to get the ball forward in their first competitive fixture since their elimination at last year's World Cup.

Colombia's Roger Martinez broke the deadlock in the 71st minute after picking up a long pass from James Rodriguez, before substitute Duvan Zapara doubled the lead from close range in the 86th minute to secure the deserved victory.

Manager Carlos Queiroz lost Luis Muriel to injury after 15 minutes, making way for the welcome addition of Martinez, but will no doubt be pleased with his competitive debut in charge of the Colombians.

Argentina, meanwhile, the runners-up in 2015 and 2016, will be hoping for more from star man Lionel Messi in their next game against Paraguay on Friday.

Colombia go on to face Qatar, one of the two guest nations at the tournament, on Thursday.

In the night's other game, Venezuela and Peru shared a goalless draw after two goals from Peru were disallowed following VAR reviews.

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Copa Libertadores saga ends as River Plate wins in Madrid

Madrid turned into Buenos Aires for a night Sunday, with tens of thousands of Argentine fans transforming Real Madrid’s Santiago Bernabeu into a stadium of their own.

River Plate fans were the only ones celebrating in the end, both at home and in Spain, after the historic victory over fierce rival Boca Juniors in the twice-suspended final of the Copa Libertadores.

River came from behind to beat the rival 3-1 in the second leg after extra time to win South America’s equivalent of the Champions League 5-3 on aggregate.

One of the most anticipated matches in South American soccer finally came to a conclusion, nearly a month after the first leg was played in Argentina.

The final capped one of the most embarrassing chapters in South American soccer, which saw its leaders unable to stage the historic match on the continent. The second leg had to be played in the Spanish capital after it was marred by fan violence in Buenos Aires two weeks ago, when Boca players were injured before the game after River fans attacked the team bus with rocks, bottles and wood.

Soccer great Lionel Messi and FIFA President Gianni Infantino were among those at the “superclasico” at the Bernabeu, which saw the Argentine fans chanting throughout the match in a unique scene at the traditional European stadium.

It was River’s fourth Copa Libertadores title, and first since 2015. Boca Juniors remained on six titles and missed a chance to tie Argentina’s Independiente as the competition’s most successful club.

“River was the better team throughout the entire tournament,” said Matias Biscay, River’s assistant coach who replaced the suspended Marcelo Gallardo. “Our team played against the toughest opponents and knew how to overcome them. And in the final against our rival we were superior in both matches.”

After reaching 1-1 after 90 minutes on Sunday, River went ahead when Juan Fernando Quintero scored four minutes into the second half of extra time, and Gonzalo “Pity” Martinez added a third goal in the final minutes of the high-profile match.

Dario Benedetto had opened the scoring in normal time just before halftime for Boca, and Lucas Pratto equalized for River in the 67th.

Boca had Wilmar Barrios sent off early in extra time and then had Fernando Gago leave the field near the end because of an injury.

The first leg at Boca’s La Bombonera Stadium in Buenos Aires ended 2-2.

Rival fans were separated for security reasons with more than 25,000 from each club expected at the Bernabeu, and many making the expensive trip from Argentina. Only supporters of the home team were allowed in the matches in Argentina to avoid fan violence.

It wasn’t a full house, though, with 62,000 attending the match at the around 80,000-capacity stadium. There were empty sections behind both goals.

“It’s difficult to talk about the fans right now,” Boca Juniors coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto said. “We couldn’t win the Copa for them. They endured a lot to come here from all different parts of the world. It was incredibly sad in the changing room. It hurts a lot for me not to win the Copa, especially because of the fans.”

Quintero scored with a shot from the edge of the area after a well-coordinated attack past the Boca defense. Martinez allowed the celebrations to begin when he scored into an open net in the final seconds as Boca goalkeeper Esteban Andrada had gone to the opposite area to try to equalize on a corner.

Just seconds earlier, Leonardo Jara had a chance to score for Boca and send the match into a penalty shootout, but his shot struck the post to the desperation of the team’s fans.

Benedetto had opened the scoring with a beautiful goal on a counterattack in the 43rd. After receiving a superb throughball from midfielder Nahitan Nandez, Benedetto cleared a defender and entered the area with only goalkeeper Franco Armani to beat, then calmly finished with a shot into the corner. He appeared to taunt a River player as he ran to celebrate with his teammates.

River got the equalizer after a pass from Ignacio Fernandez to Pratto, who scored with a low shot from near the penalty spot.

The Nov. 24 second leg was initially postponed for one day after the Boca team bus was attacked outside River’s Monumental Stadium. South American soccer governing body CONMEBOL eventually said the game couldn’t be played in Argentina because of security concerns.

The match in Madrid was played amid strict security measures. Supporters from both clubs took over the city streets throughout the weekend and had been near the Bernabeu since early Sunday.

No major incidents between fans had been reported in the city, which was picked from several bidders in part because it has one of the largest Argentine populations outside of Argentina.

Spanish authorities said a 68-year-old fan had a heart attack while going to the match and was hospitalized in critical condition.

River fans celebrated the title at the Obelisk in downtown Buenos Aires, and the ones in Madrid were expected to take the team’s red-and-white colors to an iconic plaza in the capital.

With the victory, River Plate will represent South America in FIFA’s Club World Cup this month.

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