Colombia’s Martinez and Zapata stun Messi’s Argentina at Copa

Colombia's Yerry Mina, top, heads the ball during a Copa America match against Argentina on Saturday. (AP)
Updated 17 June 2019
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Colombia’s Martinez and Zapata stun Messi’s Argentina at Copa

  • Both Argentina and Colombia are trying to end title droughts, with the Argentines winless since the 1993 Copa America
  • Argentina lost the finals of the World Cup in 2014 and the Copa America in 2015 and 2016

SALVADOR, Brazil: James Rodriguez got the best of Lionel Messi in the Copa America, leading Colombia to a 2-0 win over Argentina in their opening game in the South American tournament on Saturday.

Rodriguez set up Roger Martinez’s opening goal in the second half with a high, diagonal pass across the field, and substitute Duván Zapata scored late to seal the victory that allowed Colombia to end a 12-year winless streak against the Argentines.

Messi had missed a chance to put Argentina in front, sending a close-range header off target as his team opened the tournament with a loss for the first time since 1979.

“Our best player was the entire team,” Colombia coach Carlos Queiroz said. “The next match will certainly be more difficult, this is only the beginning.”

Both Argentina and Colombia are trying to end title droughts, with the Argentines winless since the 1993 Copa America and the Colombians without a trophy since the 2001 edition.

Argentina lost the finals of the World Cup in 2014 and the Copa America in 2015 and 2016, where it lost both of the latter in penalty shootouts against Chile.

Colombia’s last win over Argentina was in South American qualifying for the World Cup in 2007.

“It had been a long time (without beating Argentina),” Zapata said. “Everyone in Colombia is very happy, but there is still a long way to go in the Copa, we still have important matches ahead.”

Messi and Rodriguez had a mostly quiet match in Salvador, although Rodriguez provided the assist for Martinez’s 71st-minute opener.

The playmaker gained possession inside Colombia’s own half before picking out Martinez with a long pass. The forward brought the ball down on the left flank before cutting into the penalty area and shooting into the far corner of the net.

“We are disappointed because they scored a great goal when we were playing better,” Messi said. “It will take some time to accept this defeat, but we have to take the positives from today and move on to try to win the next match. We still have plenty of chances.”

Argentina’s first loss in a Copa America game in regulation time since 2007 was confirmed in the 86th minute.

Five minutes after entering the match, Zapata converted from Jefferson Lerma’s cross.

Argentina striker Sergio Aguero and Colombia veteran Radamel Falcao also could not do much to help their teams break through their opponents’ defense in a tense opening match in Group B.

“We improved in the second half and created chances,” said Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni, who complained of the bad field conditions at the Arena Fonte Nova. 

“We still have two matches left and if we win them we will certainly advance.”

Earlier Saturday, Peru were held by 10-man Venezuela to a 0-0 draw in Group A, a result that left both teams two points behind host Brazil, which opened with a 3-0 win over Bolivia on Friday in Sao Paulo. Argentina will next play against Paraguay in Belo Horizonte, while Colombia will face Qatar in Sao Paulo.

Paraguay and Qatar meet in the other Group B match on Sunday in Rio de Janeiro. 


Kane stunner earns Spurs victory over Juventus

Updated 21 July 2019
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Kane stunner earns Spurs victory over Juventus

  • Juventus struggle to adapt to their new manager’s ‘Sarri-ball’ tactic of playing out from the back with short, quick passes

SINGAPORE: Harry Kane scored a stunning 93rd minute winner from the halfway line as Tottenham Hotspur edged Juventus 3-2 in an entertaining pre-season friendly in Singapore on Sunday.

The England captain latched onto Lucas Moura's short pass and launched a first-time shot high over a scrambling substitute Wojciech Szczesny in the Juventus goal as Spurs rallied past new manager Maurizio Sarri's Italian champions in front of a delighted National Stadium crowd.

“It’s probably one of the best goals of my career. I noticed the keeper was often off of his line and thought if I get a chance to shoot I will, and it just went in,” Kane said in a post-match interview.

A youthful Spurs dominated the first half as Juventus struggled to adapt to their new manager’s “Sarri-ball” tactic of playing out from the back with short, quick passes. Instead of moving the ball forward, Juventus often found themselves defending desperately after being caught in possession as Spurs pressed high up the pitch with the Premier League side going on to take a deserved lead on the half-hour mark.

Son Heung-min started the move by holding up play and feeding Troy Parrott for a clear run at Gianluigi Buffon in the Juventus goal, with the 17-year-old forward's low strike parried by the keeper straight into the path of an unmarked Erik Lamela for a routine tap-in.

Juventus had more success after the break when they increased their tempo and went more direct, and halftime substitute Gonzalo Higuain levelled the score in the 56th minute with a drilled strike after exchanging passes with Federico Bernardeschi.

Buoyed by the equalizer, Juventus were soon ahead when Ronaldo arrived late to drive home Mattia De Sciglio's cutback four minutes later, leaving to rapturous applause by an adoring crowd when he was substituted immediately after scoring.

Spurs were level five minutes later, however, when Champions League semifinal hero Lucas fired home record-signing Tanguy Ndombele's low cross, the French midfielder finding the Brazilian with his first touch after coming on as a substitute.

Kane and Higuain both squandered good chances to score winning goals in the final 10 minutes before the England striker prevented the contest going to a penalty shootout with the most brilliant of strikes.

Meantime, Tottenham forward  Moura insists he does not  hold a grudge against boss Mauricio Pochettino despite being dropped for the Champions League final.

“I need to respect the decision of the coach and respect my teammates, so no problem with this,” said Lucas who was left on the bench for the final in spite of scoring a dramatic hat rick in Spurs' stunning semifinal comeback at Ajax.

Pochettino preferred to use  Kane in attack against Liverpool in Madrid despite a lengthy absence following injury.

Brazil international Lucas eventually came on in the 66th minute, but was unable to prevent Tottenham slipping to a 2-0 defeat.

“Of course it was difficult because every player wants to play. But it was even more to lose the game,” Lucas was quoted as saying by several British media outlets.

“For sure he (Pochettino) has a good reason for this (decision) and I am sure that it was difficult for him as well to choose a player. He needs to choose only 11.”

“I respect, I am a professional. No problem for this. Now I look forward to the next season.”