Favorite Uruguay wins 15th Copa title

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Favorite Uruguay wins 15th Copa title


Uruguayan players celebrate their win over Paraguay in the 2011 Copa America final at the Monumental stadium in Buenos Aires on Sunday. Uruguay won 3-0. [AFP/YONHAP]

BUENOS AIRES - Uruguay won the Copa America for a record 15th time after beating Paraguay 3-0 on Sunday with two goals from Diego Forlan and another from Luis Suarez.

Suarez scored in the 12th minute while Forlan hit the target in the 42nd minute and again in the final minute of the match.

“We played as a group,’’ said Suarez, who was selected as the best player of the tournament. “I think when groups are united like this, everyone together and going for the same thing, you can get things done.’’

The victory gives Uruguay its first Copa America title since 1995. The small country of 3.5 million also reached the World Cup semifinals a year ago, surpassing the performance of continental powers Brazil and Argentina.

“This is not the most important thing in the world, but it is very important for the Uruguayans,’’ Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez said. “It allows us to be united.’’

Argentina and Brazil were upset again in the quarterfinals of this tournament. Uruguay ousted Argentina on penalties and Paraguay eliminated Brazil, also in a shootout.

Argentina has won the title 14 times, Brazil eight. Brazil had won four of the past five titles.

“Before coming to the match I was already thinking that I wanted to dedicate [the victory] to all the players and coaches who had won the other 14,’’ Tabarez said.

Uruguay was the clear favorite going into the final, wrapping up a tournament filled with surprises.

Not only had Brazil and Argentina been sent home early, but Venezuela reached the third-place match on Saturday before losing 4-1 to Peru. Those two countries have been the weakest in the region in recent years, but they suddenly look formidable going into regional World Cup qualifying later this year.

Uruguay’s squad featured 20 of the 23 players it took to the World Cup a year ago, showing teamwork and unselfish play with none of the vast star power of Argentina or Brazil.

“The important thing was getting started well,’’ said Suarez, who scored four goals - one fewer than Peru’s Paolo Guerrero. “With two goals in the first half, I think it was very difficult for them to come back.’’

Suarez gave Uruguay the lead in a match it dominated in the opening minutes.

Receiving a pass in the area, the Liverpool forward beat defender Dario Veron to score from a deflected left-footed shot that went in off the far post behind keeper Justo Villar.

Uruguay could have led in the second minute, when Villar stopped Diego Lugano’s point-blank header.

Forlan, who was voted the best player at last year’s World Cup, made it 2-0 by lashing a left-footed shot from 12 meters that left Villar flat-footed. He was set up after teammate Egidio Arevalo Rios had stolen the ball from a Paraguay player near midfield.

The Atletico Madrid striker had not scored in his 12 previous matches for the national team.

Sebastian Eguren almost made it 3-0 in the 74th minute but was foiled when Villar stuck out his left arm with the ball headed for the net.

Forlan scored the final goal in the 90th minute, receiving a pass from Suarez and putting the ball in the far corner.

“This has been a lot of work, going back many years,’’ Forlan said. “It’s been a job of doing things well and it’s yielded results.’’

Paraguay defender Paulo Da Silva added: “Uruguay won fairly and played better. Uruguay is a beautiful champion.’’


한글 관련 기사 [중앙일보]

수아레스가 다시 세웠다, 축구명가 우루과이

코파 아메리카 16년 만에 우승
파라과이와 결승서 1골·1도움
3-0 승 이끌며 MVP에 뽑혀

루이스 수아레스. 그의 존재감은 우루과이의 푸른 유니폼 속에서 보석처럼 반짝였다.

수아레스는 25일(한국시간) 아르헨티나의 부에노스아이레스에서 열린 파라과이와의 2011 코파 아메리카(남미축구선수권) 결승전에서 1골·1도움으로 맹활약했다. 우루과이는 3-0으로 이겨 1995년 이후 16년 만에 패권을 탈환했고, 수아레스는 대회 최우수선수(MVP)가 됐다.

올해 24세, 잉글랜드 프리미어리그의 리버풀에서 뛰는 수아레스는 우루과이 축구의 심장이다. 소속 팀에서도, 대표팀에서도 변함없는 경기력을 발휘한다. 이런 점에서 리오넬 메시(24·아르헨티나)와 비교된다. 스페인의 FC 바르셀로나에서 초인적인 능력을 발휘한 메시는 지난해 남아공 월드컵, 올해 코파 아메리카에서 압도적인 기량을 보여주지 못했다.

수아레스는 2009~2010 시즌 네덜란드 1부리그의 명문 아약스 소속으로 33경기에 출전해 35골을 넣어 이름을 알렸다. 올해 1월에는 잉글랜드 명문 리버풀로 이적해 프리미어리그에서 활약하고 있다. 시즌 도중에 이적해 적응이 필요했는데도 13경기에서 4골을 넣는 활약을 했다.

남아공 월드컵에서는 3골·1도움으로 우루과이를 4강으로 이끌었다. 특히 한국과의 16강전에서 2골을 넣어 국내 팬들의 뇌리에 선명한 이미지를 남겼다. 이번 대회에서도 준결승까지 3골을 터뜨렸고, 결국 우승의 주역이 됐다. 팀플레이에도 능해 디에고 포를란(32·아틀레티코 마드리드)과 절묘한 호흡을 이뤘다.

우루과이는 통산 15번째 우승을 차지하며 아르헨티나(14회)를 따돌리고 코파 아메리카 최다 우승국이 됐다. 유니폼 색깔(하늘색) 때문에 ‘라 셀레스테(La Celeste)’로 불리는 우루과이는 1920~30년대 남미 축구 최강으로 군림했다. 1924년 파리, 28년 암스테르담 올림픽을 잇따라 제패했고 30년 자국에서 열린 첫 월드컵에서 챔피언에 올랐다. 하지만 50년 브라질 월드컵 우승 이후 브라질과 아르헨티나, 유럽세에 밀려 세계 무대에서 활약이 미미했다.

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