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Montevideo, July 17th 2024 - 18:52 UTC

 

 

Colombia outpace Uruguay to reach their third Copa America final

Thursday, July 11th 2024 - 03:09 UTC
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A precise header from Jefferson Lerma (16) after 39 minutes gave Colombia the decisive goal A precise header from Jefferson Lerma (16) after 39 minutes gave Colombia the decisive goal

Colombia earned a most-deserved passage to Sunday's Copa America football final with defending champions Argentina by defeating Uruguay 1-0 despite being short of a man for more than half the match in Charlotte's Bank of America Stadium in South Carolina.

The joy from Jefferson Lerma's precise header after 39 minutes became all Colombia's Argentine coach Néstor Lorenzo could cling to when Daniel Muñoz was shown a second yellow card and subsequently a red one shortly before the interval.

Thus, Uruguay's trainer Marcelo Bielsa found himself needing at least an equalizer to move on to a penalty shootout that never came to be. Oddly enough, Bielsa kept striker Luis Suárez on the bench for quite a while during the second half. Eventually, in his first minute on the pitch, Suárez hit the goalpost, proving the Rosario-born man's tactics unsuitable.

As time passed by, Colombia built up a robust rearguard, thanks to which they were on average closer than Uruguay to stretching the lead which would have meant a lethal blow way before the final whistle. Keeper Sergio Rochet was more active than his Colombian counterpart Camilo Vargas despite Uruguay's unproductive territorial prevalence.

In the duel pitting Argentine coaches against each other, Lorenzo prevailed against the arguably overrated Bielsa who looked baffled as he cursed time and again blaming his team's shortcomings on bad luck when it was visibly a combination of player stamina with a good strategy, both of which Uruguay lacked while Colombia had plenty.

In addition, fortune never was on Bielsa's side since he was forced to make an early change when Rodrigo Bentancurt left the field injured in the 34th minute.

By earning a berth against Canada for third place also at Charlotte on Saturday, Uruguay also squandered the chance to untie the score with Argentina since both teams have won 15 Copas America each. Colombia have played only two finals, losing to Peru in 1975 and beating Mexico in 2001 for their only title.

The competition is traditionally reserved for the teams making up the South American Football Confederation (Conmebol). However, in special editions like the current one, some guest teams have participated, never winning it. Mexico reached the final twice. In 1993 they lost to Argentina.

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