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Copa America

Copa América: Panama and Uruguay win against the United States and Bolivia

Uruguay's national team won 5-0 against Bolivia, while the Panamanian team surprised in a 2-1 win over the tournament hosts.

The Panamanian national team celebrates its goal against the United States.(EDUARDO MUNOZ / AFP)

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Uruguay enjoyed a smooth ride Thursday in East Rutherford, N.J., with an easy 5-0 drubbing of long-suffering Bolivia in Group C of the Copa America, while in the same group, Panama pulled off an upset by defeating the host United States 2-1.

Group C will maintain the suspense until the conclusion of the first round next Monday, when the United States meets Uruguay and Panama faces the weak Bolivia to determine the two qualifiers for the quarterfinals, an instance in which, so far, only Argentina and Venezuela have secured their places.

With these results, Marcelo Bielsa's team leads the group with 6 points and a goal difference of +7. The United States and Panama have 3 points but with better goal difference for the Americans (+1 vs. -1). Bolivia is bottom with no points and essentially eliminated.

In two bursts in the first half, the Celeste defined the match. Winger Facundo Pellistri in the 8th minute and goal scorer Darwin Núñez in the 21st gave the more than 30,000 Uruguayans who packed the MetLife Stadium in New York, peace of mind.

Liverpool's deadly striker scored his 10th goal in his last seven games for La Celeste on Thursday.

There was plenty more excitement. Goals by Maximiliano Araujo at 77, Federico Valverde at 81 and Rodrigo Bentancur a minute before the close, completing the biggest scoreline so far of the Copa America 2024, in a rounded match that was crowned with the entry of the historic striker Luis Suarez, after the insistent claim of the people.

The successful process led by 'Loco' Bielsa since the beginning of 2023 has changed the face of the Celeste. It is summarized in a second place in the current South American qualifiers for the 2026 World Cup in North America, with strong wins against Brazil and world champions Argentina, and its ideal performance in the continental competition.

Nonetheless, Bielsa has urged fans to stay grounded. "Having won two games without having faced the best teams in the competition does not allow us to think that Uruguay can previously define itself as one of the important teams in the competition," Bielsa told a press conference at MetLife Stadium.

Panama surprises hosts

The United States and Panama played an intense match early on that kept the 60,000 spectators that almost filled the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia, on tenterhooks.

The emotions in the surprise victory of the Canaleros were unleashed in ten minutes. In the 16th minute, Tim Weah, son of Liberian legend George Weah, the first non-European player to win a Ballon d'Or (in 1995) and former president of that African nation (2018-2024), was sent off with a straight red card.

The host however did not fall despite playing with ten and opened the scoring with a long-range shot by Folarin Balogun at 22, however, four minutes later, the Canaleros Cesar Blackman equalized.

Blow after blow and emotion after emotion, the thrilling duel ended in the 83rd minute when Jose Fajardo silenced the 71,000-seat stadium.

But there was more. Panama's Adalberto Carrasquilla, the team's best player, was also sent off with a straight red card in the 88th minute in the middle of a match that ended with an abrubt onset of roughness and heightened emotions.