Defending champions Uruguay made a winning start to their Copa America campaign as they labored to a 1-0 win over Jamaica in Antofagasta on Saturday. Cristian Rodriguez’s close-range finish early in the second half proved to be the only goal of the game as La Celeste stuttered their way to victory.
Paraguay came from two goals down to claim a share of the spoils with a 2-2 draw in their Copa America’s Group B opener against Argentina in La Serena on Saturday. Argentina went 2-0 up thanks to first-half goals from Sergio Aguero and Lionel Messi but their opponents struck back through Nelson Haedo Valdez and Lucas Barrios for a point at Estadio La Portada. The result leaves Argentina second in the group standings, with Paraguay below them level with one point.
Uruguay look toothless in attack
Edinson Cavani has longed for more responsibility in recent seasons, but failed to deliver once again as his nation squeezed past outsiders Jamaica. Two years since his a 64.5 million move to Paris Saint-Germain, Cavani is a shadow of the forward he once was at Napoli where he scored 104 goals in just three seasons. Uruguaya s unconvincing 1-0 victory over Jamaica in Copa America Group B on Saturday provided the latest platform for the 28-year-old to show he can still be the go-to man. Yet it turned into just another example of how poor his recent form is. Up against the modest centre-half pairing (with due respect) of Wes Morgan and Michael Hector, Cavani was unsure on the ball and rarely looked to penetrate the Jamaica duo. He appeared completely devoid of ideas in front of goal and was often seen arguing with the match officials as his frustration grew. He has had enough opportunities to prove himself without Suarez in the picture over the past year. Yet he has failed to grasp the chance presented to him so far. When asked to lead his country past Colombia in the World Cup 12 months ago, the former Palermo man failed to deliver in Brazil. It is unlikely that Uruguay will progress deep into the Copa America as long as Cavani is misfiring. He is their main man, their big hope, the person they are pinning all their hopes on. It is just the role he has wanted for the past two years. Cavani must step up now.
Tata Martino failed to find the right balance
Copa America favorites Argentina looked like strolling to a comprehensive win over Paraguay after taking a 2-0 lead on Saturday, but capitulation in the second half saw the Albiceleste held to a surprising 2-2 draw in La Serena. Sergio Aguero had opened the scoring and Lionel Messi made it 2-0 from the penalty spot in the first half while there were chances to increase the lead as the game progressed. At 2-1 up, Tata Martino made changes to try and up the ante. Carlos Tevez and Gonzalo Higuain came on for Javier Pastore and Sergio Aguero, with Lucas Biglia was brought on to replace Ever Banega minutes later. The lack of balance on the pitch for Argentina allowed Paraguay to claw their way back in the game and they deservedly found the equalizer when Lucas Barrios scored in the 90th minute. While the result was far from a disaster for Argentina as the face a struggling Uruguay and minnows Jamaica in the remaining group games but Martino knows winning this group is essential to avoid a meeting with Brazil in the next round. Martino has faced multiple criticisms during his tenure as a coach for being a naA?ve tactician. He has a wealth of attacking talents at his disposal but it is up to him to find a perfect balance if Argentina are to claim the Copa America for the first time since 1993.
Paraguay showed character and deserved the point
Argentina’s dreams of a winning start were given a reality check as Paraguay came from behind to snatch a last-gasp 2-2 draw in a Copa America classic. Argentina were seemingly cruising in the first half but half time changes from Paraguay coach Ramon Diaz brought them back into the game and exposed an Albiceleste midfield lacking in balance and a defence stretched by pace. Paraguay went all the way to the final of the last Copa America without winning any of their matches and they showed that same grit and spirit tonight as well. A stunning long-range strike from Nelson Valdez hauled Paraguay back into the contest before Argentine-born forward Lucas Barrios grabbed a dramatic 90th-minute equalizer. A draw against the favorites Argentina in such a tough group is like a victory for Paraguay. Individually they were less than their opponents but as a team they were better than Argentina and fully deserved the draw. Paraguay have not won any of their last seven games in Copa America but this spirited group will move forward with confidence and will pose a difficult obstacle for any team in this competition.