Thursday, July 05, 2007

Historic Result For Venezuela in Copa America

On July 3, the Venezuelan national team qualified first in Group A after a goalless draw against Uruguay at the Merida Stadium. This is an historic achievement as it is the first time that Venezuela goes on to the second round of Copa America. Always known as the "pushover" team in South American football, Venezuelan football is definitely improving, both at national team level and at club level. This situation was proven at the recent of the Libertadores Cup, where Caracas F.C. made it to the quarterfinals with victories over Nacional of Uruguay (both at home and away). At Merida, Venezuela went immediately on the attack against Uruguay from the first minute, trying to get an early goal. At the end of the first half, the televised transmission showed that ball possession had favored Venezuela by 55% to Uruguay's 45%. However neither of the teams managed to capitalize their goal scoring chances, and there still is a rumor among fans and press that there may have been a tacit agreement between both sides to be satisfied with the 0-0 draw, that sent both to the second round.
On July 4 at the impressive "Olimpico" Stadium in the city of Puerto la Cruz, Chile and Mexico played the last match of Group B. Mexico was had already qualified after an impressive 2-0 victory over Brazil and a 2-1 win over Ecuador, so it fielded a reserve team against Chile, that only needed to draw to qualify. Both teams played with a defensive style, broken only by the occasional counterattack. The only clear goalscoring chance of the match went to Chile, as in the second half striker Juan Lorca was apparently brought down in the area, but the referee did not award the expected penalty. Anyhow, the match ended in another 0-0 draw and the result has raised suspicions among the press that another "tacit" agreement may have been reached before the match between the Mexican and the Chilean players, since several play in Mexican clubs. The second match of the evening was played between Brazil and Ecuador, with a 1-0 victory for the five time World champions, thanks to a penalty scored by Robinho. According to the tournament rules, Venezuela must play Uruguay again this Saturday, July 7, in what has been the only curious arrangement in the tournament. In the same manner, Brazil must also face Chile again, but this time both teams have promised a "do or die" match in this knockout stage, and maybe Chile can get revenge on the 3-0 defeat against Brazil that occurred on July 1.

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