Wednesday, July 24, 2024

United States 2-0 Bolivia: Pulisic powers hosts to convincing win in Copa America opener

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 23 Jun 2024

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Christian Pulisic stole the show with an eye-catching strike and another assist as the United States opened their Copa America campaign with a 2-0 triumph over Bolivia on Sunday.

Gregg Berhalter’s side never appeared troubled in a routine victory at AT&T Stadium in Texas, thanks to the solo endeavours of captain Pulisic in their Group C opener.

The Milan forward needed just three minutes to curl in a sublime opener before teeing up Folarin Balogun – who another strike ruled out after the interval – just moments before the break in a one-sided first half.

Bolivia rarely seemed likely to forge a comeback as the USA managed a winning start to a Copa campaign for the first time since the 1995 edition when they defeated Chile 2-1 in Uruguay.

Antonio Carlos Zago’s side did not heed an early warning when goalkeeper Guillermo Viscarra was forced to rush out and clear in front of Balogun.

Bolivia were caught napping just minutes later as Timothy Weah worked a short corner with Pulisic, who coasted inside before curling into the top-right corner from an acute angle on the left-hand side of the area.

Weah – son of legendary forward George – was denied from point-blank range as the USA almost doubled their lead immediately.

Yet Berhalter’s host nation would soon add to their advantage in Arlington.

Pulisic was afforded the freedom of midfield yet again, dropping into space before offloading for Balogun to cannon a left-footed drive into the bottom-right corner.

That smart 44th-minute finish marked Balogun’s first-ever goal at this tournament and the Monaco striker found the back of the net for a second time after the interval, only for his celebrations to be cut short.

His routine tap-in from inside the six-yard area was ruled out for offside as Weah had rushed forward to capitalise on Weston McKennie’s pass before sliding across for his attacking partner.

Viscarra was equal to Pulisic’s effort before the hour as the forward attempt to recreate his early heroics, while substitute Ricardo Pepi prodded wide from Antonee Robinson’s pinpoint left-wing delivery.

Pepi was denied by fine Viscarra reflexes late on as the USA coasted to an opening victory before their next meeting with Panama on Thursday, a day before Bolivia face Uruguay.

Pulisic stars in rare USA win

Pulisic was tipped by many as the USA player to keep an eye on at the Copa America, and the Milan man delivered in emphatic fashion in this opener.

Fresh off the back of scoring 15 goals across all competitions for the Serie A giants, Pulisic’s opening strike had an expected goals (xG) tally of just 0.037 – yet that was no problem for the USA captain.

His headline-worthy effort halted a woeful run for the USA against CONMEBOL sides at this tournament as well given Berhalter’s side had previously lost eight of 10 such games.

Victory also marked the USA’s first Copa triumph over Bolivia in just their second attempt, avenging for a 1-0 defeat way back in 1995 when Marco Etcheverry scored the winner.

Bolivia wait goes on

Bolivia were seeking a win against a CONCACAF opponent in Copa action for the first time since the 1997 edition.

They defeated Mexico 3-1 in the semi-finals of the tournament they hosted 27 years ago, though a wait for another such victory must continue after a drab showing in Texas.

Carlos Zago won this competition as a player with Brazil in 1999 but his side have a long way to go if they are to even escape their group in the USA.

Bolivia have now lost their last four international outings by a concerning margin of 9-1, having suffered defeats against Mexico, Ecuador, Colombia and the USA.

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