BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil – Uruguay proved on Sunday its predictable status as a top contender for the championship in this year’s edition of the Copa America after crushing Ecuador 4-0 in their Group C opening match.
La Celeste – a 15-time champion of the Copa America – managed three goals in the first half, starting in the 6th minute, when Nicolas Lodeiro scored after a pass from Luis Suarez.
Two more goals came after Ecuador’s Jose Quintero slided into Lodeiro in the 24th minute, earning him at first a yellow, and later – after Brazilian referee Anderson Daronco consulted the video assistant referee (VAR) to review the harsh tackle – a red card, leaving the Ecuadorians one man down.
Edinson Cavani scored the 2-0 with an acrobatic volley after a corner in the 33rd minute.
Luis Suarez, seemingly fully recovered from his right-knee injury that forced him to end the season early with Barcelona, put the scoreboard at 3-0 with a poachers’ goal in the 44th minute.
After the break, the Uruguayan team almost scored a fourth goal, but Cavani’s shot came from an offside position.
In the second half, with the win very much in the bag, Uruguay decided not to press for more and settled for simply passing the ball from side to side while waiting for the final whistle. They still managed to find the back of their opponents’ net one more time without needing any extra effort, thanks to an own goal by the Ecuadorian central defender Arturo Mina.
La Celeste proved to be the best team on the field from beginning to end, with a balance of 7-versus-1 shots on target and 62-percent ball possession, compared to Ecuador’s 38 percent.
Suarez scored his first goal of the tournament and was named Man of the Match.