Copa América Roundup: Argentina Squeak Through to the Next Round as Colombia Finish Unbeaten

Argentina finally secured their first victory of the tournament, beating Qatar 2-0 at a virtually empty Arena do Grêmio. Though not an entirely satisfactory performance, Argentina will be pleased to have progressed to the knockout stages and know they must step up their performances if they are to do well in this tournament. 

Elsewhere, Colombia beat Paraguay 1-0 to progress to the knockout stages with three wins out of three. Paraguay failed to capitalise on Colombia playing a weaker side and will have to hope other results go their way if they are to reach the knockout stages as the best of the rest. 

Qatar 0-2 Argentina

After failing to win both of their previous games in the group stage, Argentina knew this game was a must-win if they were to stand any chance of qualifying for the knockout stages. 

La Albiceleste started off in positive fashion, with ​Inter striker Lautaro Martínez opening Argentina’s account after just three minutes. Martínez capitalised on a poor pass by Qatar defender Bassam Al-Rawi to score one of the easiest goals he’ll get in his career.

It was Argentina who dominated the rest of the half although they never really looked like adding a second. It was ​Manchester City‘s ​Sergio Agüero who came closest in the 21st minute, his low shot coming just wide of the post. 

Argentina had plenty of chances in the second half but found themselves frustrated by a resilient Qatar defence. The best opportunity fell to ​Barcelona forward ​Lionel Messi in the 72nd minute, who uncharacteristically hoofed the ball way over the crossbar. 

The Argentinians got a much deserved second goal eight minutes from time, as Agüero’s low shot easily found its way past Qatar goalkeeper Saad Al Sheeb. 

Argentina’s win and Paraguay’s loss meant La Albiceleste finished second in their group. They will now face Venezuela, who have impressed in this competition so far, at the Maracanã on 28 June. 

Colombia 1-0 Paraguay 

Cristian Borja,Oscar Cardozo

With their place in the knockout stages already secured, Colombia fielded a heavily rotated side as they looked to rest some of their players before the next round. The pressure was all on Paraguay though, knowing a win would secure them a place in the knockout stages.

It was Colombia who largely dictated proceedings in the first half. Legendary Monaco striker Radamel Falcao came close in the 27th minute, his bicycle kick just skimming the side of the net. 

The deadlock wouldn’t last much longer though. Flamengo’s Gustavo Cuéllar nutmegged Paraguay goalkeeper Gatito Fernández at the near post to give Colombia the lead after 31 minutes.

Colombia looked to have their second in the 68th minute when a bright pass from ​James Rodríguez met Luis Díaz, whose strike met the back of the net. However, after a lengthy VAR check, the referee ruled that Díaz had committed a handball and the goal was dismissed. 

Los Cafeteros finished as winners of Group C, meaning they will face one of Chile, Uruguay or Japan in the quarter-finals on 28 June. Paraguay, who never really threatened throughout the match, must now wait for other results to see whether they’ll go through to the knockout stages as one of the two best third-place finishers.