Day three of the 2015 Copa América in Chile saw the opening round of Group B matches get underway, and as is always the case in the world’s oldest international tournament, results did not go quite as expected.
Reigning champion Uruguay was only able to edge past competition whipping-boy Jamaica 1-0 in Antofogasta, while pre-tournament favourite Argentina was held 2-2 by Paraguay in La Serena after squandering a two-goal lead. The latter result sees Uruguay top Group B on three points after the first round of matches, while Argentina and Paraguay both sit on a point, ahead of competition debutants Jamaica.
The day began with Óscar Tabárez’s Uruguay meeting Jamaica in what was expected to be a drubbing at the Estadio Regional in Antofagasta. Goalscoring opportunties were few and far between in a relatively dull first half, as Uruguay struggled to break down the Caribbean side. A long-range effort from Atlético Madrid midfielder Cristian Rodríguez six minutes before the break that forced Jamaican keeper Dwanye Kerr into action was the closest the champions came to breaking the deadlock, as a frustrated Uruguay entered the dressing room 0-0 at break.
Uruguay was not to be denied seven minutes after the restart however, as Rodríguez fired the champions into the lead from close-range at the end of a well worked set piece move. Jamaica nearly responded after 76 minutes when Giles Barnes headed just wide, and the underdogs would keep piling on the pressure in the closing stages. Rodríguez’s goal would ultimately prove to be the difference between the two sides, as Uruguay held on to record an unconvincing 1-0 win in a performance that did very little to suggest it can lift its 16th Copa América title.
The second match of an eventful day three saw Argentina take on Ramón Díaz’s Paraguay at the Estadio La Portada in La Serena, in a game pre-tournament favourite Argentina was expected to win quite comfortably. The first half started and finished as many had predicted, with Argentina completely dominating the Paraguayans with a scintillating brand of beautiful attacking football. Sergio Agüero pounced on a sloppy back pass from Miguel Samudio to put the Albiceleste ahead after 28 minutes, before Lionel Messi doubled their advantage from the penalty spot seven minutes later, after Samudio had brought down Ángel Di María.
Tata Martino’s men entered half time with a comfortable 2-0 buffer, but a much different second half would see a thrilling end-to-end game with both sides creating plenty of opportunities. An inspired Paraguay shocked Argentina just before the hour mark, when Eintracht Frankfurt’s Nelson Haedo Valdez unleashed a 25-yard scorcher that sailed into the roof of Sergio Romero’s net to reduce the deficit.
Argentina was presented with a number of golden opportunities, but Leo Messi and Javier Pastore were unable to extend the Albiceleste‘s lead. Argentina was left to rue its string of missed opportunities when substitute Lucas Barrios fired home an 89th minute equaliser to salvage an unlikely draw for the 2011 finalists that saw both sides share the spoils. The next round of games sees Paraguay meet Jamaica in Antofagasta on June 16 while Argentina takes on Uruguay in a blockbuster of a match later the same day.