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Uruguay win to set up Argentina clash

MENDOZA (Argentina), Jul 13 (Agencies)
Published on 13 Jul. 2011 11:32 PM IST
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Uruguay secured a mouthwatering Copa America quarter-final with Argentina courtesy of a 1-0 win over a makeshift Mexico side in La Plata. A young Mexico side were subjected to a tortuous night against last year’s World Cup semi-finalists, but somehow conceded only one goal as Alvaro Pereira bundled the ball over the line on 14 minutes after goalkeeper Michel had failed to hold from Diego Forlan’s dipping free-kick. With Chile winning Group C after a 1-0 win over Peru earlier in the day, Uruguay knew a victory would secure them second place in the section and a match against host nation Argentina in Santa Fe on Saturday. It should be quite a contest. The two former world champions have won the Copa America a record 14 times each, and both seem to be in form approaching the contest. Argentina finished second in Group A behind Colombia after managing two draws with Bolivia and Colombia before shredding Costa Rica 3-0 on Monday to seal their progress. Whatever is said about Uruguay’s dominance of this match, it is clear that there has to be a rule change to help Mexico be competitive at future Copa America tournaments. Mexico are allowed only to field what is effectively an under-22 side at the Copa America because of rules imposed by CONCACAF, the federation it belongs to, which governs football in North and Central America and the Caribbean. CONCACAF is worried that if its nations send full-strength squads to the Copa America, they will field only under-strength teams at its own regional tournament, the Gold Cup. This year’s Gold Cup was played in June, just before the Copa, and Mexico, fielding a full-strength squad, won it. But the young Mexican squad at the Copa has struggled to hold its own against the stronger South American teams. Mexico were beaten by Chile and Peru in their opening two matches and end up as the only team in the tournament without a point with Peru securing their progress to the last eight in third place in Group C on four points. In truth, they were lucky to get out of this one shipping only one goal as the movement of Forlan and Luis Suarez provided a constant threat. Michel was forced to swat away a thumping drive from Forlan a minute after Uruguay’s opening goal before Forlan watched the ball hit a post on 28 minutes after beating the exposed keeper from 15 yards out. Mexico’s chances were few and far between. Giovani Dos Santos brought a fine reflex save out of Fernando Muslera in the first half while Rafael Marquez Lugo had the ball in the net in the closing 15 minutes, but he was rightly ruled offside. The Mexican goal led a charmed life throughout the evening as Suarez prodded a shot wide of goal on 64 minutes. Michel then stood tall to block a Forlan howitzer on 66 while Nicolas Lodeiro cracked a shot off a post on 75 minutes. It was to make no difference to the final standings in the group.

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