Colombia Resists with One Player Down and Reaches the Copa América Final

Defeated Uruguay by one goal with no reply in the second semi-final of the competition.

Colombia Resists with One Player Down and Reaches the Copa América Final Embed from Getty Images

A Colombia reduced to 10 players since the end of the first half secured a spot in the Copa América final in football, 23 years later, by defeating Uruguay 1-0 in Charlotte, United States.

The returning Jefferson Lerma, who had missed the quarter-finals due to suspension, decided the second semi-final with a headed goal in the 39th minute, following a corner by former Porto player James Rodríguez, who recorded his sixth assist in the competition.

Just seven minutes after taking the lead, the Colombian team was reduced to ten men due to the expulsion of Daniel Muñoz, who, already on a yellow card, assaulted former Sporting player Ugarte, complicating his team's task significantly.

The Colombians, however, managed to resist throughout the second half, during which they ended up having the clearest chances near the end when Uruguay was no longer defending. Two of these opportunities came from former Porto player Uribe (in the 88th and 90+4th minutes) and another from Lerma (in the 90+8th minute).

These chances ultimately did not matter to the Colombians, who extended their unbeaten streak to 28 games a national team record with 22 victories and six draws since the 0-1 defeat to Argentina, whom they will face again in the final on February 1, 2022.

The Uruguayan team, lacking creativity, could not find a way through the opposing defense throughout the second half, following a first half in which former Benfica player Darwin Núñez missed two great opportunities (in the 17th and 28th minutes).

Facing the suspension of Nández, the injury of Ronald Araújo, and the physical issues of Viña, Marcelo Bielsa introduced Cáceres, Giménez, and Bentancur, switching from the 4-3-3 used in previous matches to a 3-4-3 with three central defenders. Meanwhile, Néstor Lorenzo stuck with the 4-2-3-1 formation, bringing back Lerma after his suspension in place of Uribe.

Colombia started better and made the first threats through Arias (sixth minute), Luis Díaz (11th), Muñoz (15th), with a close header, and Lerma (16th).

The Uruguayan team made their first offensive appearance only in the 17th minute and immediately had a clear opportunity, missed by Darwin after an assist from Valverde. The former Benfica player tried again in the 22nd minute and missed another clear chance in the 28th.

Colombia responded in the 33rd minute with a header from Córdoba following a cross from James. In the 39th minute, James took a corner from the right to the far post, where Lerma, higher than Giménez and taking advantage of Rochet's hesitation, scored with a header.

In the final part of the first half, at the 44th minute, Ríos shot at the Uruguayan goalkeeper, and in injury time, at the 45+1 minute, Muñoz assaulted Ugarte, received a second yellow card, and left Colombia with 10 men. This didn't prevent another attempt by Luis Díaz in the 45+4 minute.

With one more player, Bielsa replaced Mathías Oliveira and Pellistri with De Arrascaeta and Cristian Olivera. Meanwhile, with one less player, Lorenzo took off forward Jhon Arias and brought in defender Santiago Arias.

Trailing and with a numerical advantage, Uruguay completely took control of the match, but in one of their rare offensive appearances, it was Colombia that threatened with a header from Córdoba following another precise corner from James.

The Uruguayan team kept bringing on forwards, including Luis Suárez, who hit the left post in the 71st minute after a pass from Valverde in the box. In the 75th minute, Valverde shot from outside the box but missed the target.

In the final part of the game, Uruguay threw everything forward but did so poorly, and they only avoided conceding a second goal because Colombia missed two clear chances, by Uribe in the 88th and 90+4 minutes, and Lerma, without a goalkeeper in the net, also missed from distance in the 90+8 minute.

Thus, Colombia will be seeking their second title, after their 2021 victory, and will face Argentina on Sunday, the current trophy holder, world champion, and 15-time winner of the tournament. Uruguay will play for the bronze against debutants Canada.

Updated: 11:15, 11 Jul 2024

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