Cuiaba: An own goal in the first half and a late second from Edinson Cavani gave Uruguay a 2-0 win over Bolivia on Thursday and guaranteed their place in the last eight of the Copa America.
Uruguay have won this tournament more than any other country but they have laboured so far this year, losing 1-0 to Argentina, drawing 1-1 with Chile, and failing to shine against a Bolivian side whose last away win was 32 games ago in Myanmar.
They huffed and puffed through the first half in Cuiaba and needed a stroke of luck to take the lead five minutes before halftime when Jairo Quinteros and Carlos Lampe combined to put through their own goal.
A low cross came into the six-yard box and stranded between Cavani and Luis Suarez, Quinteros was forced to take action but could only knock the ball onto the legs of Carlos Lampe and into the net.
Bolivia lost their first two games and were desperate to get some points on the board but although they were not overawed they were slow in breaking forward and no match for more their more wily opponents.At the other end Uruguay had a host of chances, with Suarez and Cavani both spurning opportunities and the veteran Lampe once again in excellent form in the Bolivia goal.
Uruguay hadn’t won since beating Colombia in a World Cup qualifier last November but Cavani guaranteed all three points with his first international goal since that game when he converted a sumptuous cross from Facundo Torres with 11 minutes remaining.
Substitute Maxi Gomez should have made it three in injury time but he side-footed wide in front of an open goal.The result ended a five-game winless streak for Uruguay and ensures their place as one of the top four teams in Group A alongside the already qualified Argentina.
Miguel Almiron got a goal and an assist as Paraguay beat Chile 2-0 in the Copa America on Thursday and confirmed their place in the last eight.
The result ensures that with one round of group games still to play, Paraguay qualify from Group A along with Chile, Argentina and Uruguay.
The defeat at an empty stadium in Brasilia was coach Martin Lasarte’s first since taking over at Chile seven matches ago, and it was a sobering one given how easily they were brushed aside by their opponents.
Paraguay took the lead after 33 minutes when Braian Samudio, starting his first game in this Copa, got on the end of an Almiron corner kick to power a header past Claudio Bravo.
Chile started the second half more brightly but they soon found themselves two goals down.
With 58 minutes gone Gary Medel was adjudged to have wrestled Carlos Gonzalez to the ground inside the penalty box and Almiron stepped up to score from the spot.
Both sides had penalty claims turned down before the final whistle but Chile, Copa champions in 2015 and 2016, could have no complaints about the result having had only one shot on target the entire game.
Their cause was not helped by a string of top players including Bravo, Medel, and Arturo Vidal, all having an off day.
The one sour note for Paraguay was seeing substitute Antonio Bareiro taken off the field on a stretcher in stoppage time with what looked like a knee injury.
Uruguay plays Paraguay and Bolivia face Argentina in the final round of Group A games on Monday.