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Jun 17, 2019, 9:24:00 AM

Uruguay thrash Ecuador

Luis Suárez and Edinson Cavani were both on target for Uruguay at the weekend as they beat Ecuador 4-0 in their opening game in Group C of the Copa América, held in Belo Horizonte.

Uruguay, who reached the quarter-finals of the 2018 World Cup before losing to eventual winners France, went into the game in strong form, having amassed an aggregate 10-0 scoreline over their three previous opponents, and they were the strong favourites to win the game with sports betting companies against an Ecuador team who had finished third from bottom in the CONMEBOL qualifying group for the World Cup and hadn’t won any of their last four games.

The favourites made a strong start to the game. Nicolás Lodeiro, who plays for the Seattle Sounders in Major League Soccer in the US, opened the scoring on 6 minutes, but the decisive moment in the match came when José Quintero of Ecuador was sent off for elbowing an opponent on 24 minutes. The 28-year-old was first awarded a yellow card for the incident, but after the referee Anderson Daronco checked VAR, the seriousness of the offence became apparent and Quintero was shown a red card, leaving Ecuador with a mountain to climb.

Uruguay have won the Copa América 15 times – more than any other nation – and their strong defence, combined with the striking duo of Suárez and Cavani, made them among the favourites to extend their winning record in this year’s tournament.

Paris Saint-Germain forward Cavani got his name on the scoresheet shortly after the half-hour mark with a spectacular bicycle-kick, and shortly before half-time, Barcelona striker Suárez finished neatly to register his 57th international goal, which gave Uruguay a 3-0 lead at the interval. To complete Ecuador’s disappointing night, Arturo Mina volleyed into his own net with 12 minutes to go.

Speaking to the press after the game, the manager of Ecuador, Hernán Darío Gómez, said that the game had got away from his side after the sending off and that they weren’t as bad as the final scoreline suggested. They will next be in action against Chile on Friday, while Uruguay take on Japan in Porto Alegre on Thursday. The top two teams in the group will progress to the knockout stages, along with two of the tournament’s three third-placed sides.

Words: Jonah Farrell

Images: PA