Uruguay 3-1 Panama (Jun 23, 2024) Game Analysis – ESPN

Uruguay 3-1 Panama (Jun 23, 2024) Game Analysis – ESPN


Uruguay opened their Copa América campaign with a 3-1 win over Panama on Sunday but head coach Marcelo Bielsa was quick to temper expectations and said they must continue to improve.

Uruguay‘s win saw them move level with the United States on three points. The U.S. beat Bolivia 2-0 in the day’s other Group C match.

Marcelo Bielsa’s team were rewarded for their blistering early pace when Araujo fired home a sublime curling effort from the edge of the area in the 16th minute.

Panama grew into the match after the break and wasted several chances to get themselves back into the contest.

José Fajardo blasted an effort wide in the 52nd minute after a defensive error by Mathías Olivera, while Jose Rodriguez tested Uruguay goalkeeper Sergio Rochet with a ferocious shot from range.

Asked what he said to his team at half-time, Panama coach Thomas Christiansen told reporters: “I told them they have to be fearless.

“That they have to increase their level of confidence. That they are capable to do what they did in the second half. And after the goal, like Uruguay, we generated opportunities.”

Uruguay were on the ropes for much of the second half but Darwin Nunez, who had already missed a string of chances, settled their nerves in the 85th minute with a coolly-taken volley into the bottom corner after a rebound dropped kindly for him.

In a frenetic spell during stoppage time, Vina rose highest to head home Uruguay’s third from a set-piece before Michael Amir Murillo netted a consolation goal for Panama after cutting back onto his left foot and curling his shot past Rochet.

Uruguay’s all-time leading scorer Luis Suárez, 37, was an unused sub.

Bielsa took charge of Uruguay in May last year and steered them through a transitional period in which veterans Edinson Cavani and Diego Godin both retired, with all-time leading goal scorer Suárez looking set to follow suit soon.

The 15-times Copa América winners have been in excellent form over the last several months, beating both Argentina and Brazil in World Cup qualifiers.

Liverpool’s Darwin Nunez scored Uruguay’s second goal.

Megan Briggs/Getty Images

Those results have sparked hope of a record 16th continental crown for “La Celeste” but Bielsa said they were taking it one game at a time.

“When it comes to Uruguay’s aspirations, we will see that and build it match by match,” he told reporters.

“My expectation is that each match will increasingly help us to improve on our level. Uruguay has players of a very good level and we need to see if I can build with those players.

“The first half gave us the edge over our opponent. We should have scored more.

“In the second half, there were 15 minutes where we performed very poorly. They dominated the ball during that time and they created opportunities where we were only leading by one goal and if they had scored, it would have been complicated for us.

“We missed five goals and we scored one in the first half and then we missed five and scored two in the second half.”

Uruguay next face Bolivia in New Jersey on Thursday.

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