The final group games of the Copa America took place on Monday night and the early hours of Tuesday morning. Here is how those crucial Group C unfolded:
Uruguay pip Chile to top spot
The game was one of few chances. Barcelona striker Luis Suarez missed the best opportunity of the first half, seeing an effort deflect wide of goal. The veteran star looked to have chosen the wrong options with teammates in support.
Suarez later in the game rather bizarrely claimed that Chile goalkeeper Gabriel Arias had handled the ball, despite the fact that Arias was in his penalty area. The referee quite understandably waved the forwards claims for a spot kick away.
Pablo Diaz had the best opportunity for Chile, as he saw his second-half header cleared off the goal line by Atletico Madrid centre-back Jose Gimenez. The decisive moment of the game came with just eight minutes remaining on the clock.
PSG forward Edinson Cavani glanced home a cross Jonathan Rodriguez. The goal proved crucial, as it saw Uruguay clinch the group. La Celeste will now face Peru in the last eight of the competition. Oscar Tabarez’s team are one of the favourites to win the competition. Chile will face a potentially tough clash with Colombia.
Japan and Ecuador eliminated after draw
Japan and Ecuador both suffered elimination from the competition after the two teams drew 1-1 Belo Horizonte. A win would have seen either side head through to the last eight, but neither could find the decisive winning goal.
Japan took opened the scoring after just 15 minutes in this clash. Shoya Nakajima hit a fantastic strike from 25 yards out that smashed home off the crossbar after a poor clearance from Ecuador goalkeeper Alexander Dominguez.
Enner Valencia should have equalised for the South American side on 23 minutes, but the forward’s effort from close-range was saved well by Japanese goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima.
Ecuador did equalise on 35 minutes though through Angel Mena. Kawashima produced another good stop this time from a Robert Arboleda volley. However, Mena reacted the quickest to score with the rebound.
Both teams had golden opportunities to score the winning goal. Naomichi Ueda headed straight at the Ecuadorian ‘keeper, while at the other end Pedro Pablo Velasco fired wide. However, possibly the best chance of the second half fell to Japan’s Daizen Maeda, who missed a one-on-one in the 90th minute. The draw did neither team any good, as both suffered elimination. However, it means that Paraguay head through to the last eight of the competition.
No real surprises
In truth, the group stages brought few surprises in the teams who qualified for the last eight. The biggest teams from the continent made it through to the quarter-finals, which should make the last-eight an intriguing prospect. The likes of Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Colombia and will all fancy their chances of lifting the trophy. At this stage, it is anybody’s tournament.
Who are the big contenders to win Copa America 2019?