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Chile beat Mexico; Uruguay held by Peru

La plata, July 5 (Agencies)
Published on 6 Jul. 2011 12:09 AM IST
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After Brazil and Argentina had served up dull fare in their opening matches, the Copa America finally caught fire on Monday as Chile came from behind to edge Mexico and take command of Group C, while fancied Uruguay were held by Peru. Four draws in five matches, an average of barely a goal per game and sub-zero temperatures had left fans less than impressed and questioning if they would see anything approaching samba-style soccer from anybody over the coming month, Brazil included. Chile answered the question emphatically enough — though Arturo Vidal’s winner against Mexico, a towering header from a corner, had a rather Anglo-Saxon, rather than latino, hallmark to it. That did not worry the Roja, who had been staring an embarrassing defeat in the face at halftime after Nestor Araujo put a youthful Mexico side into a 40th-minute lead. Mexico elected to rest most of their senior squad having just lifted the Gold Cup to give their youngsters some tournament experience, but El Tri, regular special guests at the South American event, eventually gave up the ghost after Esteban Paredes canceled out Araujo’s effort at the Estadio Del Bicentenario in San Juan before a 25,000 crowd. Vidal then bulleted home a header from Matias Fernandez’s corner to cheer the large traveling Chilean contingent as they moved to within sight of a place in the quarter-finals. Alexis Sanchez, who is expected to be one of the stars of the tournament, said Chile had not lost heart after going behind and were rewarded for their tenacity. “We kept calm and as a result the goals eventually came to enable us to turn things around,” Sanchez said. Mexico assistant coach Luis Fernando Tena suggested Chile, who arrived on the back of five unbeaten friendlies, could potentially go one better than four previous final defeats. “They have great players, they are a solid and strong team. They know each other well and this team can go a long way at the Copa. I think this is the best team I have seen at the tournament,” Tena said. World Cup semi-finalists Uruguay earlier found Peru a tough proposition and it was left to Liverpool’s Luis Suarez to rescue a 1-1 draw after Paolo Guerrero opened the scoring midway through the opening period. Markarian, in his first tournament as Peru coach, was happy with the result and performance. While Chile celebrated their win, Argentina and Brazil were left to plot improvements after failing to see off Bolivia and Venezuela, but their coaches will not ring the changes just yet. Argentina coach Sergio Batista said he would largely keep faith with the team held by Bolivia, confirming just one change — Manchester City’s Pablo Zabaleta to replace Marcos Rojo on the right side of defense, while veteran Javier Zanetti switches to the left. That means Carlos Tevez will again partner Lionel Messi in attack.Venezuela, meanwhile, continued to bask in the aftermath of their surprise draw with Brazil — but the organizers still hit them, as well as Paraguay and Ecuador, with a US$5,000 fine for taking to the pitch late.

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