Uruguay got their Copa America campaign off to a perfect start, beating a 10-man Ecuador 4-0 in Belo Horizonte on Sunday.
Nicolas Lodeiro had given Oscar Tabarez’s men a sixth-minute lead before Jose Quintero was sent off for Ecuador.
That made an already difficult task even tougher and Uruguay capitalised on their numerical advantage in the first half through goals from star duo Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez.
Uruguay comfortably saw out their win, added to by an Arturo Mina own goal in the second half, to secure a dream start in Group C, which also includes Japan and two-time reigning champions Chile.
#URUECU | Comenzó el segundo tiempo en el estadio Mineirão.
Uruguay 3-0 Ecuador #ElEquipoQueNosUne pic.twitter.com/Ju8qrvCqY9
— Selección Uruguaya (@Uruguay) June 16, 2019
Diego Godin almost gifted Ecuador a first-minute opener after an underhit back pass before Uruguay opened the scoring.
Suarez’s cross from the right found Lodeiro, who took two beautiful touches before unleashing into the bottom corner on the half-volley.
Uruguay were already in control and the game turned further in their favour in the 24th minute.
Quintero made contact with the face of Lodeiro in an aerial challenge and was shown a yellow card, only to be sent off by the referee following a lengthy VAR review.
Uruguay pushed on from there, Cavani forcing two fine saves from Ecuador goalkeeper Alexander Dominguez, including one onto the post after a delightful flick.
But the Paris Saint-Germain forward would double his side’s lead in the 33rd minute with his first Copa America goal, acrobatically volleying in from close range after Godin centred a header.
Uruguay went further ahead just before the break, Suarez converting at the back post after Martin Caceres flicked on a corner from Lodeiro.
In control with their three-goal lead, Uruguay were content to simply dictate possession to begin the second half.
But they sealed their win in the 78th minute, Mina scoring an own goal that was initially ruled out for offside before being overturned by the VAR.
What does it mean? Perfect start for Uruguay
Uruguay made a group-stage exit at the Copa America Centenario after immediately being put on the back foot following a shock loss to Mexico. This was just the start Tabarez’s men needed, and Cavani and Suarez are already off the mark too.
Cavani finally breaks duck
Adding to Uruguay’s win, the pressure eased significantly on Cavani after the forward finally scored his first Copa America goal. He appeared to be growing frustrated after being denied twice by Ecuador goalkeeper Dominguez, but he scored his first Copa goal in his 11th game.
1 – Uruguay’s Edinson Cavani has scored his first Copa America goal, in his 11th game and with his seventh shot on target in the competition. Expected.#CopaAmerica pic.twitter.com/Piqh9rE3OT
— OptaJavier (@OptaJavier) June 16, 2019
Copa crowds a worry
CONMEBOL president Alejandro Dominguez admitted he was worried about the poor crowds at the Copa America and this clash was another example. The atmosphere was more comparable to a meaningless friendly than a Copa opener for these two teams, but Dominguez believes the crowds will improve.
Uruguay take on guests Japan in Porto Alegre on Thursday, while Ecuador look to bounce back against Chile on Friday.
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