The final two matchdays had some of the least hyped games, but nevertheless, the games proved to be exciting.
All teams would play with some already having qualified, but the majority of the teams still needed to confirm their spots in the quarter-finals.
With teams like Argentina and Chile already qualified, many of the remaining teams saw this matchday as their chance to qualify.
There have been plenty of great performances from superstars like Neymar to little-known players like Ben Brereton. This edition of the Copa has so far lived up to the hype that had been building since the last one.
Ecuador vs Peru
Both teams were coming in with different expectations as Peru is looking to cement themselves amongst the contenders while Ecuador is looking to qualify for the next stage. Peru started off the tournament with a resounding defeat but has started to turn things around after a win against Colombia. Ecuador has struggled across the tournament with a loss to Colombia and a draw with Venezuela.
Ecuador would start the half much better than Peru with quality chances aplenty as they seemed to have figured out the Peruvian defense. It would all pay off in the 23rd when Alan Franco would force an own goal from Renato Tapia to give Ecuador the lead. They would add another goal to their lead when Ayrton Preciado volleyed in the finish from a great set-piece play.
After the restart, Peru would pull one goal back through Gianluca Lapadula, who would rifle a low drive shot under the keeper. Again, Peru would get another goal quickly as André Carrillo would finish off an incredible run by Lapadula. The game would finish 2-2, with both teams feeling confident of advancing to the next stage.
Brazil vs Colombia
Easily the most hyped game of the matchday, Brazil, and Colombia would be a clash between two contenders. Brazil looks unstoppable at the moment as they look strong everywhere across the pitch with superstar performances from all. Colombia has its own strengths but has struggled to score with their forwards looking incapable of finishing the chances.
Colombia would score one of the best goals of the year within the first ten minutes as Luis Díaz would deliver a beautiful bicycle kick. This goal would wake the Brazilians up as they would pile on the necessary pressure in order to break down the Colombian defense. The half would end 1-0 for the Colombians as they seemed up to the task of stopping the incredible Brazilian team.
The second half would open much the way it ended with Brazil growing into the game as the Colombians sat back, absorbing the pressure. Brazil would finally get their equalizer as Bobby Firmino would head in Renan Lodi’s cross past the Colombian keeper. Ten minutes deep into stoppage time, Brazil would get their winner through Casemiro, heading in Neymar’s corner as Brazil would collect all three points.
Bolivia vs Uruguay
Bolivia and Uruguay would get group A started, with both teams still alive in terms of qualification for the knockout stages. Bolivia has yet to tie or win a game as they are likely to finish bottom of the group. While Uruguay was seen as a contender, they have struggled to win as they have played other contenders.
Bolivia would give an early scare to Uruguay as they seemed more than willing to go for the goal as Uruguay seemed unsettled. After this scare, Uruguay would settle back into the game as the strike force of Edinson Cavani and Luis Suárez were starting to feel out the Bolivian defense. Uruguay would eventually get their opener through Giorgian De Arrascaeta, who would force an own goal from Bolivian defender Jairo Quinteros.
Uruguay would continue their onslaught as both Cavani and Suárez would fail to convert their chances. Eventually, Cavani would score his first goal of the tournament after a great pass from Facundo Torres. Uruguay looks to be well on the path of qualification as Bolivia seems to be officially out of the picture of making the next stage.
Chile vs Paraguay
Chile came into the match already qualified for the next stage as Paraguay seemed to be right on the edge of qualification. Chile decided to rotate some of their players to give some of their stars a rest as the knockout stages loom. While Paraguay was also well on the qualification path, they still needed a win to cement their place.
Paraguay was the more adventurous of the two sides from the onset as they were willing to take advantage of Chile’s lack of offense. This pressure would finally pay off in the 33rd minute, with Braian Samudio heading in a corner to give Paraguay the lead. Going into the half, both sides seemed to accept this result.
The second half was more of the same as Paraguay felt that they could get another goal from the Chilean team that seemed to have turned off their attack. Within ten minutes of the restart, Paraguay would get a penalty after a clumsy tackle in the box, Miguel Almirón would step up and finish the penalty to give Paraguay the 2-0 lead. The game would finish 2-0 as Paraguay seemed to have clinched their spot in the quarterfinals as Chile will have the next matchday off.
Brazil vs Ecuador
Both teams came into the game having already qualified for the knockout stages, so there was a good amount of rotation. Brazil, one of the tournament favorites, came into this game on an eleven-game winning streak and looked to extend that run. Ecuador had not won a game yet but was still able to get a favorable draw in the quarters.
The first half opened with both teams getting quality shots off, keeping both keepers busy as the teams traded attacks. Brazil would get their opener through Éder Militão as he would loop his header off past the Ecuadorian keeper. The half would end with Brazil in the lead as they looked to end their group with all wins.
Ecuador opened the second half as the more courageous of the two teams, putting more and more pressure on the Brazilian defense. Ángel Mena would tie the game for Ecuador after Brazil failed to clear an Ecuadorian corner leaving Mena open to fire a shot across Alisson in the Brazilian net. Neither team would be able to find the winner, with both teams leaving this game with a draw.
Venezuela vs Peru
Neither team had qualified for the quarters, so they both had a chance to advance with a win or draw depending on the outcome of the other games in the group. Venezuela has struggled across the tournament as their team got wrecked by COVID before the start of the tournament. At the same time, Peru has struggled to find the form that took them to the finals of the previous edition.
Peru had a few good chances within the first fifteen minutes, but they weren’t able to connect properly on the passes. Both teams got some close chances, with them both getting headers that would barely miss the net. The half would end in scoreless as both teams seemed to have locked in qualification for the next round.
Within the first few minutes, Peru would get their opener with André Carrillo tapping in a failed clearance by the Venezuelan defense. For the rest of the second half, Venezuela would continue to press as they came so close to equalizing but weren’t able to find the killer ball. Peru would qualify with this win as Venezuela was knocked out.
Uruguay vs Paraguay
This game was of little significance outside of who would finish second in the group as no one would catch up to Argentina in the first place. Uruguay has grown into the tournament as their forwards have started to heat up over the past two games. Paraguay has had a pretty good tournament so far, with only a loss to Argentina marring their record.
Uruguay would open the half with quality chance after quality chance within the first ten minutes as they looked to break down the Paraguayan defense. Nahitan Nández would be clumsily taken down in the box around the 19th minute, awarding Uruguay a penalty that Edinson Cavani would convert. The goal didn’t seem to quell the urge of the Uruguayans as they continued to press on deep in the first half.
The second half would prove to be more of the same, with Uruguay being the more aggressive of the two sides. Paraguay was unable to get back into the game as they seemed content with their positioning in the table. With the win, Uruguay took second place, while Paraguay finished third just above Chile.
Bolivia vs Argentina
Another game that was of little importance besides just cementing both teams’ positions, Argentina had already won their group while Bolivia was already eliminated. Argentina looks unbeatable now as the team seems to be really gelling with their seemingly unstoppable attack. Bolivia has had a terrible tournament as they have been unable to get a single point.
From the beginning, Argentina would be in control, quickly getting a goal from Papu Gómez as he volleyed in a beautiful pass from Lionel Messi. That wasn’t the last of Messi’s involvement in the first half, as he would convert a penalty before chipping the Bolivian keeper to make his case of being the best player at the tournament. While Argentina was already up 3-0, they didn’t seem to want to stop going into the half.
Bolivia would pull one back within the first 15 minutes as Erwin Saavedra would finish a great low-driven pass. Argentina would quickly respond with Lautaro Martinez cleaning up a scuffed pass to bring Argentina’s lead back up to three. The game would end 4-1, with Argentina further cementing themselves as favorites for the tournament as Bolivia crashed out.
Featured Image: Reuters