Brazil, Uruguay strong in Copa America, Argentina stutters

Uruguay is the Copa America’s most successful team with 15 titles. (AFP)
Updated 25 June 2019

Brazil, Uruguay strong in Copa America, Argentina stutters

  • Take a closer look at the Copa America quarterfinals this week

SÃO PAULO: The group stage of the Copa America ended with Brazil and Uruguay still the favorites and Argentina still unable to meet expectations.
Colombia also impressed early on, finishing with a perfect record and without conceding any goals, while two-time defending champion Chile stuttered after a good start.
The quarterfinals of the South American competition begin Thursday with host Brazil taking on old foe Paraguay in Porto Alegre, and a day later in Rio de Janeiro it will be Argentina facing a Venezuela team it has struggled against recently.
Also Friday, Colombia plays Chile in São Paulo, and on Saturday Uruguay’s attacking duo of Luis Suárez and Edinson Cavani will face Peru in Salvador.
Here’s a closer look at the Copa America quarterfinals this week:
BRAZIL-PARAGUAY
Brazil got off to a slow start, being booed by the local crowd in its first two matches, but the 5-0 rout of Peru eased the pressure on coach Tite and boosted the team’s confidence entering the knockout stage.
Paraguay barely survived the first round, advancing with only two points as one of the best third-place finishers from the three groups. But it played better than the results showed, letting victory escape against Argentina only because of a missed penalty kick in the second half.
Brazil easily beat Paraguay the last time the teams met — in a World Cup qualifier two years ago. But it was Paraguay that eliminated Brazil the last two times the “Seleção” made it to the Copa America quarterfinals, in 2011 and 2015. Paraguay came out on top in penalty shootouts both times.
“It will be a difficult match, we will need to be very focused,” Brazilian playmaker Philippe Coutinho said. “But the team is full of confidence, things are going well for us right now.”
VENEZUELA-ARGENTINA
Argentina would normally be favored against Venezuela, but this time there is reason for concern for Lionel Messi and his teammates.
While Argentina continues to struggle and just escaped elimination in the group stage, Venezuela enters the quarterfinals carrying good momentum.
“We will have to play better against Venezuela,” Messi said. “It’s a team with very clear ideas in attack, with very quick players.”
Venezuela, which held Brazil to a 0-0 draw in the group stage, defeated Argentina 3-1 in a friendly in Madrid in March. It drew its previous two matches with the Argentines, both in qualifying for the last World Cup.
After losing the last two Copa America finals, Argentina remains on a quest to end a 26-year title drought with the senior squad.
COLOMBIA-CHILE
Chile’s title defense will go through a red-hot Colombia, the only team to win all of its matches and not concede any goals.
James Rodriguez and Radamel Falcao will be taking on Alexis Sanchez and Eduardo Vargas, two of Chile’s leaders in the title-winning campaigns of 2015 and 2016.
The Chileans couldn’t avoid the Colombians because it lost to Uruguay 1-0 in the final group game, when midfielder Arturo Vidal was among those rested by coach Reinaldo Rueda, a Colombian.
Colombia is led by Portuguese coach Carlos Queiroz, and is seeking its first South American title since 2001.
URUGUAY-PERU
With Suárez and Cavani thriving, Uruguay will be favored against a Peruvian squad coming off a demoralizing loss to Brazil that prompted a wave of criticism against Argentine coach Ricardo Gareca.
Peru’s defense is the worst among the teams in the quarterfinals, with six goals conceded in three matches. Uruguay has the second-best attack with eight goals, one less than Brazil.
Cavani and Suárez have already scored two goals each for Uruguay, while Peru striker Paolo Guerrero has only one.
Uruguay is the Copa America’s most successful team with 15 titles, one more than Argentina. Uruguay’s last continental title was in 2011.


Manchester United end Liverpool’s winning run in 1-1 draw

Manchester United’s Andreas Pereira, left, and Liverpool’s Georginio Wijnaldum during their match in Manchester on Sunday. (AP)
Updated 21 October 2019

Manchester United end Liverpool’s winning run in 1-1 draw

  • Adam Lallana’s late equalizer saves the European champions from a shock defeat

Liverpool failed to record a record-equalling 18th straight Premier League win, but Adam Lallana’s late equalizer saved the European champions from a shock defeat at Manchester United in a 1-1 draw on Sunday. Marcus Rashford’s controversial goal handed Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s struggling Red Devils a 1-0 half-time lead, but they could not hold out for a much-needed victory as they left substitute Lallana unmarked at the back post to level with five minutes to play.
Liverpool move 6 points clear of Manchester City at the top of the table, but will still feel this was a missed opportunity to inflict more pain on a United side sitting 13th in the Premier League, just two points off the relegation zone.
The two most successful sides in English football could not have come into the game in more contrasting form.
However, United answered Solskjaer’s calls to rise to the occasion.
Liverpool were without Mohamed Salah through injury and the Egyptian’s pace and trickery was badly missed.
The visitors were able to welcome back goalkeeper Alisson Becker for the first time in two months after a calf injury, but the Brazilian was rarely tested as United were happy to sit back and counter-attack.
Solskjaer changed his formation to a 3-5-2 in an attempt to limit Liverpool’s flying full-backs Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson and it was largely effective as the hosts restricted the league leaders to precious few chances.
Liverpool’s best opening before the break came when Sadio Mane finally found some space to counter-attack, but from his cut-back Roberto Firmino fired too close to David de Gea.
United had not scored in their two previous matches prior to the international break, but finally produced a moment of quality going forward to take the lead, even if fortune was also on their side for the goal to stand.
Victor Lindelof looked to have upended Divock Origi on halfway, but no foul was given by Martin Atkinson and as United broke forward, Daniel James’s cross perfectly picked out Rashford to prod past Alisson.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp was furious on the touchline even before a VAR review failed to overturn the decision.
The visitors’ frustration only grew moments later when Mane outmuscled Lindelof to turn in what he thought was an equalizer, only for VAR to this time rule the goal out for a handball by the Senegalese.
Klopp sprinted down the touchline at the half-time whistle, but was unable to change the pattern of the game after the interval as Liverpool continued to dominate possession without creating many chances.