Edinson Cavani’s 21st-minute penalty lifted Uruguay into second spot in Group A and booked a quarter-final date with Colombia after a 1-0 win over Paraguay at the Copa America on Monday.
In the final group game, Manchester United forward Cavani’s goal moved Uruguay up from fourth to second position, avoiding a last-16 meeting with hosts and defending champions Brazil.
Paraguay came into the contest hoping to claim their first Copa win against Uruguay since 1947, with an outside chance of topping Group A, but instead slipped to third and will next face Peru.
To make matters worse for La Albirroja, influential Paraguay midfielder Miguel Almiron limped off, placing his quarter-final availability in doubt.
— Copa América (@CopaAmerica) June 29, 2021
Uruguay needed to avoid defeat to ensure they would not face Group B winners Brazil in the quarters and started with intent as Cavani headed wide in the third minute, while team-mate Giorgian De Arrascaeta grazed the post moments later.
La Celeste won a penalty following a clumsy challenge from Angel Romero as Cavani emphatically hammered the spot-kick past Paraguay goalkeeper Antony Silva.
Uruguay continued to dominate as Nicolas De La Cruz went on a superb run, beating two opponents, before laying off for Cavani, whose cutback across goal was cleared by Omar Alderete.
Almiron went off injured on the half-hour mark, before Uruguay thought they had a second via Matias Vecino, although it was disallowed with Cavani offside.
Paraguay had a goal disallowed early in the second half too, when an offside Oscar Romero nodded home.
Luis Suarez replaced Cavani in the 68th minute and should have made it 2-0 when he broke clear alongside Rodrigo Bentancur but the pair got their wires crossed.
Paraguay had one last chance to level from a stoppage-time free-kick but David Martinez skewed wide.
What does it mean? Quarters confirmed
Most importantly, both sides avoid a quarter-final date with tournament favourites Brazil. Subsequently Chile slip to fourth and will take on the hosts.
Uruguay continued their dominance over Paraguay, having not lost in their past eight encounters dating back to 2007 as Cavani’s improved his international goal tally to 53.
Suarez benched in Uruguay goal search
The goals are hardly flowing for Uruguay, who had gone four games without a goal after their opening 1-0 loss to Argentina, but they have now scored four in their past three games.
Uruguay head coach Oscar Tabarez opted to drop Suarez to the bench, with Cavani starting alone up front. Cavani has now scored two goals in two games, although his winner came from the penalty spot with few other genuine chances falling his way. Tabarez will have a dilemma for the quarter-final on whether to persist with that approach.
Paraguay selection headache
Almiron looked forlorn upon his early substitution, suggesting he will not be fit to play in the quarter-final. Thus Paraguay boss Eduardo Berizzo has a major headache on how to replace his influential star, with Oscar Romero and Andres Cubas among the options to come into the starting XI.
Paraguay will meet Peru in Goiania on Friday, while Uruguay clash with Colombia in Brasilia on Saturday.
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