Sunday, July 24, 2011

Forlan fires Uruguay to 2011 Copa América triumph.

Uruguay celebrate after winning the 2011 Copa América today

Uruguay defeated Paraguay 3-0 in the Copa América final at the Estadio Monumental in Buenos Aires, to win South America’s continental soccer championship for a record 15th time.

Luis Suárez opened the scoring in the game’s 12th minute and Diego Forlán (right) made it 2-0 late in the first half. Forlán added his second and Uruguay's third goal in the game’s final minutes, to secure Uruguay’s first title since winning on home soil in 1995.

The victory lifts Uruguay, who reached the semi-finals at last year’s World Cup, one championship clear of arch rival Argentina in the 43 tournaments of soccer’s oldest international tournament.

Uruguay's squad featured 20 of the 23 players it took to the World Cup a year ago, and they won the tournament with a combination of good teamwork, a solid defence, along with a burning hunger and desire - despite not having the vast pool of 'star' players available to them, compared to the likes of Argentina or Brazil.
Uruguay eliminated the host nation and pre-tournament favourites in the quarter-finals.

Paraguay, the 1953 and 1979 champions, had been seeking its third title after advancing to the final without having won a single game. The Paraguayans drew all three group games and needed penalty kicks to get past Brazil and Venezuela in the quarter-finals and semi-finals respectively.

Today’s win also earned La Celeste, as Uruguay’s team is known, a berth at the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup in Brazil.

Of the region's top four teams in the FIFA world rankings, only Uruguay (ranked world number 18 by FIFA) made the semi-finals of this years 12-nation event, following up its fourth-place finish in South Africa last year.

Uruguay was the clear favorite going into the final, wrapping up a tournament filled with surprises.

Uruguay beat Argentina 5-4 in a quarter-final penalty shootout, while Brazil's bid to win the tournament for the fifth time in the past six occasions ended when lost 2-0 on penalties to Paraguay, missing all four of their spot-kicks in the process!

Not only had Brazil and Argentina been sent home early, but Venezuela reached the third-place match on Saturday before losing 4-1 to Peru.
Those two countries have been the weakest in the region in recent years, but they suddenly look formidable going into the regional World Cup qualifying matches starting later this year.

It was only the second time in the tournament’s 95-year history that neither Brazil nor Argentina made the semi-finals of a tournament in which at least one of them took part.

Uruguay could have even have taken the lead as early as the second minute, when 'keeper Justo Villar superbly kept out Fenerbahçe defender Diego Lugano's powerful point-blank header.

Luis Suárez (right) did give Uruguay the lead ten minutes later, in a match they dominated from start to finish. Receiving a pass in the area, the Liverpool forward beat defender Dario Veron to score with a deflected left-footed shot that went in off the far post.

Atlético Madrid's Forlán, who was voted the best player at last year's World Cup in South Africa, made it 2-0 just before half-time, lashing home an angled drive following a pass from Egidio Arevalo Rios.

Sebastian Eguren almost made it 3-0 in the 74th minute, but Villar saved well.
Forlán notched the final goal in the last minute. Cavani swept a cross-field pass to Suárez, whose cushioned header found Forlán and he calmly rolled the ball into the corner of the net, past the advancing Villar to register his 31st international goal.

Paraguay seldom threatened the Uruguayan goal, and badly missed their injured duo of striker Roque Santa Cruz and winger Aureliano Torres. In addition Paraguay Coach Gerardo Martino and assistant Jorge Pautasso were suspended from the match after being sent off for repeatedly arguing with the referee in Wednesday's victory over Venezuela.

"The important thing was getting started well, with two goals in the first half, I think it was very difficult for them to come back," said Suárez after the match.

"We played as a group,I think when groups are united like this, everyone together and going for the same thing, you can get things done," added Suárez, who was both the competition's joint top-scorer, and voted the 'best player of the tournament.'


Uruguay: Fernando Muslera, Maximiliano Pereira, Diego Lugano, Sebastian Coates, Martin Caceres (Diego Godin, 88), Alvaro Gonzalez, Diego Perez (Sebastian Eguren, 69), Egidio Arevalo Rios, Alvaro Pereira (Edinson Cavani, 63), Diego Forlan, Luis Suarez.

Paraguay: Justo Villar, Ivan Piris, Dario Veron, Paulo Da Silva, Elvis Marecos, Nestor Ortigoza, Cristian Riveros, Victor Careces (Hernan Perez, 64), Enrique Vera (Marcelo Estigarribia, 64), Nelson Haedo Valdez, Pablo Zeballos (Lucas Barrios, 76).

Goals: Luis Suárez 12', Diego Forlán 42', Diego Forlán 89'

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