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Tata Martino sent off; Paraguay beat Jamaica

Tata Martino sent off; Paraguay beat Jamaica

The result leaves Argentina firmly on course to win Group B, with only one game against tournament minnows Jamaica, beaten 1-0 by Paraguay in Tuesday’s early game, remaining.

By (Agencies)

Published: Thu 18 Jun 2015, 2:47 PM

Last updated: Wed 8 Jul 2015, 2:52 PM

Santiago — Sergio Aguero reignited Argentina’s Copa America campaign with the only goal in a 1-0 victory over historic rivals Uruguay. Aguero bagged his second goal of the tournament in the 56th minute of a niggly battle between the 1930 World Cup finalists in their 199th meeting.

The result leaves Argentina firmly on course to win Group B, with only one game against tournament minnows Jamaica, beaten 1-0 by Paraguay in Tuesday’s early game, remaining. Argentina captain Lionel Messi praised his team-mates for keeping their cool in a hardfought win over Uruguay.

A tense first half had seen Argentina dominate possession and territory but fail to break down a resolute Uruguayan defense.

The two best chances of the opening period both fell to Argentina, with Manchester United winger Angel Di Maria testing Fernando Muslera in the ninth minute with an angled shot that the Uruguayan goalkeeper needed two attempts to gather.

Muslera was pressed into action again midway through the half, producing a superb one-handed save to deny Aguero after the striker met Messi’s sublime cross with a downward header. Tensions began to rise thereafter, with Argentina coach Gerardo Martino shown a red card by Brazilian referee Sandro Ricci in the 38th minute.

On the stroke of half-time tempers flared once more with Argentina enforcer Javier Mascherano booked for sliding through Uruguay playmaker Nicolas Lodeiro, who had earlier seen yellow for a wild challenge on Zabaleta.

The winning goal came on 56 minutes, when a cross from Pablo Zabaleta was met by his Manchester City teammate Aguero, who headed past Muslera. In Tuesday’s other game, a blunder by Jamaica goalkeeper Duwayne Kerr gifted Paraguay a 1-0 victory that put them top of Group B.

Midfielder Victor Caceres played a long ball out of the Paraguay half for Edgar Benitez to chase and Kerr’s attempt at a clearing header bounced straight off the striker’s thigh and into the net in the 35th minute. Paraguay moved top on four points from two matches.

Jamaica, in the tournament for the first time as a guest team and warming up for the CONCACAF Gold Cup in the United States starting on July 7, have no points after they also lost their first game 1-0 to Uruguay. It was Paraguay’s first win in 10 Copa America matches. They reached the 2011 final with five consecutive draws including two penalty shootout wins.

The match was also coach Ramon Diaz’s first victory in his fifth game in charge and followed their surprise 2-2 draw with favourites Argentina three days ago. “We needed to win to be calm in our next matches ... It was tough but it’s important to win and we’re happy with the three points,” captain Roque Santa Cruz told reporters.

Santa Cruz said Paraguay, emerging from a lean spell that included missing the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, were beginning to gel under Diaz but needed to improve in front of goal. “We’re pleased with the way the team is functioning, there’s a lot of intensity, I hope we can add some finishing,” he said.

Prior to the goal, Paraguay striker Raul Bobadilla went just wide with a scissors kick in the 21st minute and Santa Cruz’s volley went straight to Kerr in the 32nd.

Caceres had the ball in the net early in the second half but was ruled offside and left back Miguel Samudio hit the bar on the hour after a fine run and shot.

Jamaica’s best chance was a stinging low shot from outside the box by Garath McCleary that skimmed the outside of Anthony Silva’s right hand post with a quarter of an hour to go.

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