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USA and Uruguay make winning starts to Copa campaigns

Published : Tuesday, 25 June, 2024 at 12:00 AM  Count : 91

ARLINGTON, JUNE 24: Christian Pulisic scored one goal and set up another as the United States launched their Copa America campaign with a clinical 2-0 victory over Bolivia on Sunday.

Also in Group C, Darwin Nunez was on target as 15-time Copa winners Uruguay beat Panama 3-1 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, offering a reminder of their status among the favourites.

US captain Pulisic curled in a superb early goal before teeing up a second for striker Folarin Balogun just before half-time at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

"We came out flying with a lot of intensity," Pulisic said.

"Obviously an early goal helped us a lot, but all around a pretty dominant performance."

US coach Gregg Berhalter had warned his team against complacency against a Bolivia side who had won only one game in nine previous editions of the Copa America since 1999.

Pulisic was clearly in no mood to let the South Americans improve that record, firing the hosts into the lead after only three minutes.

Receiving the ball from a corner on the left, Pulisic darted towards the edge of the area and whipped a rasping shot goalwards.

Bolivia goalkeeper Guillermo Viscarra got a hand to it but could not stop the ball flying into the roof of the net.

Despite that early breakthrough the US struggled to convert their dominance into chances and were frustrated by a combative Bolivian team who had three players booked in the first 31 minutes.

Leonel Justiniano, Gabriel Villamil and Luis Haquin were all shown yellow cards in an indisciplined start by Bolivia.

The US doubled their lead in the 44th minute and once again Pulisic was heavily involved.

Picking up the ball near halfway, the AC Milan forward accelerated towards the penalty area and squared to Balogun, who took a touch to drag defender Jesus Sagredo wide before drilling a low shot into the bottom corner.

The superior movement of the US forward line continued to cause problems after the restart.

Balogun just failed to get a toe on a low shot by Tim Weah in the 50th minute and had the ball in the net moments later but was adjudged marginally offside.

Pulisic then drew a fine save from Viscarra in the 60th minute after weaving into the penalty area and unleashing a ferocious shot.

Substitute Ricardo Pepi should have made it 3-0 in the 65th minute, moments after coming on for Gio Reyna, but saw his shot from an Antonee Robinson cross roll wide.

Pepi was then denied a goal in the 90th minute after a desperate double save by Viscarra.

Marcelo Bielsas Uruguay began in trademark fashion, swarming opponents Panama and pressing relentlessly.    —AFP

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