Colombia heaped misery on Lionel Messi and Argentina with a 2-0 victory in their Copa America opener on Saturday.

Runners-up in 2015 and 2016, Messi's Argentina were looking to banish their past demons in pursuit of a first major international title since 1993.

However, Argentina were upstaged by Colombia, who made a winning start in Group B thanks to Roger Martinez's 71st-minute stunner and Duvan Zapata's late sealer.

As Argentina pressed and probed, first-half substitute Martinez sent a thunderous strike past Franco Armani in Salvador and Zapata made sure of the win during the closing stages.

Argentina came into the tournament off a 5-1 rout of Nicaragua and with the most Copa victories in history (119) but the South American giants did not look like winning against Colombia.

Martinez – a replacement for Luis Muriel in the 14th minute – linked up with Radamel Falcao but his shot deflected just wide of the post as Colombia appeared the more likely to strike first.

Overall, it was a forgettable opening 45 minutes, which did not see a single shot on target from either team, with Messi subdued.

It was more of the same in the second half, though Colombia goalkeeper David Ospina was finally called into action after a vicious volley from Leandro Paredes approaching the hour mark.

The match did come to life moments later when Juan Cuadrado's tackle on Messi threatened to spark a melee as Argentina players rushed in to confront the Colombia winger.

That triggered Argentina, who almost took the lead after Nicolas Otamendi's powerful header forced Ospina into a low diving save, while Messi was unable to head home the rebound with the goal at his mercy.

But Colombia broke the deadlock with 19 minutes remaining – Martinez collecting the ball on the flank and drifting inside before beating Armani from distance – and fellow substitute Zapata doubled the lead four minutes from the end courtesy of an emphatic close-range finish.

What does it mean? Long road ahead for Scaloni

In the build-up to the match, head coach Lionel Scaloni joked he would retire if Argentina win the Copa America. Scaloni does not appear any closer to retirement based on Saturday's result and performance. After last year's World Cup last-16 exit and Messi's brief international absence, the South American giants have a lot of work ahead.

Martinez makes himself a hero

When Muriel went down with an injury early in the first half, Carlos Queiroz turned to Martinez. And as Falcao struggled to make an impact on proceedings, 24-year-old America forward Martinez emerged a hero with his first international goal since 2016.

Pressure builds on Messi and Co.

The weight of a nation falls on Messi's shoulders and the captain was helpless to prevent another poor result on the international stage. Still searching for his first senior title with Argentina, Messi was relatively subdued in the team's first game.

What's next?

Argentina meet Paraguay on Wednesday, while Colombia face guests and 2022 World Cup hosts Qatar.

Richarlison has told Brazil team-mate and Ajax star David Neres to join him at Everton.

Eredivisie champions Ajax face a fight to keep hold of winger Neres, 22, after an excellent season won him admirers across Europe.

Neres scored crucial Champions League goals against Real Madrid and Juventus en route to the semi-finals and is reportedly on Arsenal's transfer radar.

Everton, however, are believed to be the frontrunners for his signature and Richarlison wants his compatriot to make the move to Goodison Park.

"I've spoken to him about it already," Richarlison told the Liverpool Echo in the aftermath of Brazil's win over Bolivia at the Copa America, in which both players started.

"I told him the doors are open for him there, and that he could help us a lot.

"I hope he comes. He'd be very welcome there. I've known him since we played together for Brazil Under-20 side, and he's a guy I get along with really well.

"Hopefully I'll see him there."

With 23 domestic goals in the past two campaigns, Neres appears to have outgrown the Eredivisie and could be ready for a dream switch to England.

He said: "Of course the Premier League interests me. It's the best league in the world, and I've always wanted to play there.

"But I leave all that in God's hands."

Netherlands booked their place in the knockout phase of the Women's World Cup thanks to a 3-1 win over Cameroon, while Canada beat New Zealand 2-0 to also earn progression.

Although things were slightly more straightforward than in the 1-0 win over New Zealand last time out, the Dutch still had to dig deep against a Cameroon side heading for an early exit.

Vivianne Miedema opened the scoring with an emphatic header in the 41st minute, though Cameroon hit back a few moments later – Gabrielle Onguene beating goalkeeper Sari van Veenendaal to the ball, nodding it around her and slotting home.

Netherlands restored their lead just after the interval when Dominique Bloodworth bundled in after a fortunate ricochet in the box.

Miedema sealed the points late on, rifling a strike past Annette Ngo Ndom to make her Netherlands' all-time record scorer with a remarkable 60 goals in 77 games at just 22 years of age.

Canada had very little difficulty against New Zealand in Grenoble in the day's late kick-off.

Although the first half was tight, Canada looked more competent in attack and they eventually opened the scoring just after the break – Jessie Fleming steering home after Nichelle Prince's excellent run and cut-back.

From there it was a walk in the park and Prince got herself a deserved goal to wrap up the win late on, reacting quickest when Christine Sinclair headed against the post from close range.

Netherland and Canada will face each other on Thursday for top spot in the group.

Both Mexico and Cuba will be seeking a bright start to their respective 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup campaigns when they meet in the opening round of Group A on Saturday night at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California. 

Jill Ellis dismissed criticism the United States faced for goal celebrations in her team's first World Cup match against Thailand, describing it as part of the game.

USA were questioned for over-celebrating as the score reached 13-0, setting a record for either a men's or women's World Cup match, with former Canada international Kaylyn Kyle labelling them "disrespectful".

USA head coach Ellis, however, explained her team were not celebrating the goals as much as they were celebrating the players and the hard work that went into scoring on the World Cup stage.

"Goals are pretty hard to come by in our sport and I think the meaning behind those goals, the people behind those goals - you got to celebrate that," Ellis told reporters ahead of Sunday's clash with Chile.

"That night was about celebrating people. I was most excited on the last goal we scored because that was Carli Lloyd. And I know all the history and all the background of that player to get to that moment and what that meant.

"So I think that's important to put the human element in this as well. It might seem a scoreline to you, but it’s also years and years of work and the pride I had in that moment - I didn't know the score.

"I wasn't celebrating the goal. I was celebrating Carli. I think that’s important."

USA celebrated five goals from Alex Morgan, who matched a feat accomplished only by Michelle Akers for most goals scored by a player in a single game.

Rose Lavelle, Lindsey Horan and Sam Mewis also scored for the first time in a World Cup as they made their tournament debuts.

"You have to seize those moments," Ellis said. "I have seen a lot of goals in this tournament and there have been a lot of unique celebrations, exuberant celebrations.

"That is part of a World Cup. It brings you to that level because it's the pinnacle of our sport.

"I think it's great that women - not just our women, all women - get to celebrate in such an exuberant way with their own stamp as well."

The 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup kicks off this Saturday with an interesting battle in Group A between Canada and Martinique at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.

The two teams arrive into the contest fresh off of a successful 2018-19 Concacaf Nations League Qualifying campaign in which they both took collected victories in each of their four matches.

Saturday’s clash marks the fourth Gold Cup contest between the two sides, with Martinique taking the three points in their last meeting, a 1-0 win in Group A in the 2013 Gold Cup, also played at Pasadena’s Rose Bowl.

Martinique will be led by dangerman Kevin Parsemain, who took the Gold Cup by storm two years ago in the 2017 edition when he scored three goals in the group stage.

Meanwhile, there is plenty of young talent on the Canadian side, led by Bayern Munich man Alphonso Davies, who served up four assists during CNLQ.

Canada is appearing in its 14thGold Cup, while Martinique will take the field in the Gold Cup for the sixth time in its history.

Deportivo La Coruna qualified for the Segunda Division play-off final with a 5-2 aggregate defeat of Malaga thanks to Saturday's 1-0 win at La Rosaleda.

Carlos Fernandez scored twice as Deportivo came from behind in the first leg to establish a dominant position in the tie.

And, despite Malaga recording 25 shots in the return match, Jose Luis Marti's side held firm to secure a spot in the final.

Malaga had their chances, with winger Javi Ontiveros – the scorer of a delightful goal in Galicia – twice denied by the woodwork in a frantic first half, but goalkeeper Dani Gimenez remained unbeaten.

His opposite number Munir Mohamedi handed Depor victory in the second leg by allowing a speculative Alex Bergantinos drive slip out of his grasp in the 82nd minute, though a comeback already looked beyond Malaga.

Depor will face either Real Mallorca or Albacete for a place in LaLiga next season, with the former holding a 2-0 lead from the first leg at Son Moix.

Venezuela held on with 10 men to secure a 0-0 draw against Peru in a largely lacklustre Copa America encounter in Porto Alegre on Saturday.

Luis Mago's 75th-minute dismissal for a second bookable offence gave Peru hope of snatching all three points but a stalemate always seemed the likely conclusion between two evenly matched teams.

Ricardo Gareca's side did have the ball in the net on two occasions, only for offside decisions to deny Christofer Gonzales and Jefferson Farfan either side of half-time.

Both teams now move a point ahead of Bolivia, who lost 3-0 to Brazil in the tournament opener.

Peru appeared to have an early opener when midfielder Gonzales buried a loose ball, but a VAR review showed Renato Tapia to have been offside as he challenged Venezuela goalkeeper Wuilker Farinez.

Christian Cueva and Salomon Rondon failed to take good chances either side of the 20-minute mark, while a poor Farinez punch forced Tomas Rincon to make a crucial block towards the end of a first half blighted by stoppages.

More fluent passages of play after the interval brought only wayward finishing until Peru forward Farfan nodded in Edison Flores' left-sided cross.

The latter had strayed offside before delivering the cross, however, and there was to be no winner even after Mago's second yellow card, with Farinez redeeming his earlier efforts by making a fine close-range save from lively substitute Flores.

 

What does it mean? More possible from Peru

Having reached the quarter-finals at the Centenario edition in 2016, and as a team that has spent 12 months building on a World Cup appearance, Peru will be especially disappointed not to have taken all three points.

Their level of performance will need to improve if they are to challenge the big nations at this tournament.

Advincula an important outlet for Peru

Venezuela's left side struggled with the mighty task of stopping Peru's barnstorming right-back Luis Advincula, whose pace and positivity gave his team a constant attacking option out wide.

Farinez fortunate to avoid first-half punishment

He did well in the end to earn a clean sheet by denying Flores but other teams in the tournament are sure to bombard Venezuela keeper Farinez with aerial balls after his unconvincing attempts at claiming crosses in the first half almost led to two Peru goals.

What's next?

Venezuela face hosts Brazil in Bahia on Tuesday as Peru head to Rio de Janeiro to meet Bolivia.

Vladyslav Supriaha inspired Ukraine to Under-20 World Cup glory for the first time in their history as he scored twice in a 3-1 comeback win against South Korea.

Ukraine trailed inside five minutes as Lee Kang-in converted from the penalty spot, but Supriaha found the net either side of half-time and Heorhii Tsitaishvili rounded off the scoring late on.

Saturday's final in Lodz featured two first-time finalists and it was South Korea who made the brighter start thanks to Lee's spot-kick, awarded after VAR ruled Kim Se-yun had been fouled just inside the area.

Supriaha profited from some slack defending to tap in an equaliser in the 34th minute, however, and he added Ukraine's second early in the second half after being inadvertently played in by Korea's Kim Hyun-woo.

Ukraine had Real Madrid goalkeeper Andriy Lunin to thank for keeping them in front when he pushed Lee Jae-ik's header on to the frame of the goal.

And Tsitaishvili scored a breakaway third to round off the comeback for Oleksandr Petrakov's side, who saw off Panama, Colombia and Italy on their way to the final.

Gabriel Jesus insists there is no chance he and strike partner Sergio Aguero will leave Manchester City before next season.

The Brazil international, who is currently away on Copa America duty, was restricted to just eight Premier League starts in 2018-19 due to the goalscoring form of Aguero.

That led to speculation last month suggesting City are prepared to offload Jesus during the close-season in order to raise funds to bring in other players.

But the 22-year-old sees his future at the Etihad Stadium and insists he is respectful of Aguero's status at the club, which has forced him to settle for a back-up role.

"He is a legend at the club - he's the top scorer [of all time]," he told the Daily Mail. "Obviously as a player I always want to play, but I'm happy to help and I respect Sergio.

"I think it's out of the question that Aguero leaves, and me too."

Bayern Munich should enjoy a smooth entry into the new season after being drawn against fourth-tier Energie Cottbus in the first round of the DFB-Pokal.

Niko Kovac's men completed a domestic double by crushing RB Leipzig 3-0 in the final in May and begin their defence of the trophy with a trip to Brandenburg in early August.

Their opponents, former Bundesliga side Cottbus, are at a low ebb, having been relegated back to Regionalliga level just 12 months after winning promotion to the third division.

Beaten finalists Leipzig will visit Osnabruck – newly promoted to the 2. Bundesliga – while Borussia Dortmund are set for a reunion with former player and ex-Germany international Kevin Grosskreutz at Uerdingen.

First-round matches are scheduled to be contested between 64 teams from August 9 to 12.

Brazil and Gremio forward Everton has talked up a move to Manchester United by suggesting his playing style may suit the Premier League.

The 23-year-old scored a late stunner to seal Brazil's 3-0 win over Bolivia in Friday's Copa America opener, adding to Philippe Coutinho's brace.

Everton made his nine minutes on the field count at Estadio do Morumbi to further enhance his reputation as he cut inside from the left and sent the ball flying past Carlos Lampe.

And after opening his account for the Brazil senior side, Everton eyed up a move to a big European club, with Old Trafford a possible destination.

"I'm a player that's always trying to get on top [of the opposition]," he told the Daily Mail.

"Cutting in from the left with dribbles and good finishes - clubs in Europe have this style of play. Maybe I can fit in at Manchester United and others."

Everton, capped seven times by Brazil, has scored three goals for Gremio in the Copa Libertadores this season and seven times in the domestic league.

He has also been linked with a move to Manchester City and AC Milan in recent months.

Rumoured Inter transfer targets Edin Dzeko and Romelu Lukaku would make for a "devastating" strike partnership, according to Nerazzurri great Christian Vieri.

Inter are believed to be interested in signing both forwards as new boss Antonio Conte reshapes a squad that only narrowly secured a top-four finish in Serie A.

Reports state target man Dzeko is close to completing a switch from Roma, while Lukaku's mixed spell at Manchester United will come to an end if the clubs can reach an agreement.

At 33 and with a year left to run on his contract, Dzeko could make the move for a cut-price fee and former Italy star Vieri wants to see the Bosnia-Herzegovina international at San Siro.

"He is the most complete striker in Italy," Vieri told Gazzetta dello Sport.

"He is very strong physically, he has technique, heading ability, he shoots very well with both feet.

"He scores and helps his team-mates score. With him and Lukaku, Inter would become devastating."

Inter's city rivals, AC Milan, have their own decisions to make in attack.

Marco Giampaolo is reportedly set to be appointed head coach and one of his first tasks will be to resolve the future of Gonzalo Higuain, who is coming to the end of an uninspiring loan spell at Chelsea.

Vieri spent time at the Rossoneri in the twilight of his career and counselled the club against selling the experienced Higuain, despite the presence of Krzysztof Piatek as the established first-choice striker.

"There's no question. He's scored a mountain of goals," Vieri said of Higuain.

"He wasn't happy at Milan for many reasons, and it was impossible to adapt to English football with Chelsea in a few months.

"If I were a sports director I would bet with my eyes closed on Higuain."

Uruguay will be aiming to improve on their disappointing group-stage exit from three years ago when they kick off their 2019 Copa America campaign against Ecuador on Sunday.

Oscar Tabarez's side have won the competition a record 15 times, most recently in 2011, but they fell short at the first hurdle in 2016 and far more is expected this time around.

Boasting a squad including the likes of Diego Godin, Edinson Cavani, Fernando Muslera and Luis Suarez - on course to play a full part in this opener after recovering from knee surgery - Uruguay are considered third favourites behind Brazil and Argentina.

They begin their latest bid for glory in Belo Horizonte against 2024 hosts Ecuador, who enter the tournament on the back of a poor run of form.

Hernan Dario Gomez's men have lost two and drawn two of their last four matches and face a tough task to advance from a group that also contains defending champions Chile and Japan who, along with Qatar, have been invited to the tournament by CONMEBOL to bring the number of teams to 12.

That bad run of results is in stark contrast to Uruguay, who have won all three of their matches in 2019, scoring 10 goals and conceding none – albeit against moderate opposition in Uzbekistan, Thailand and Panama.

 

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Uruguay - Luis Suarez

No current Uruguay player has scored more Copa America goals than Suarez's four, despite the Barcelona striker only appearing in one tournament - all six of his appearances came in their successful 2011 campaign. After his 2018-19 was cut short by a knee injury, the 32-year-old will be keen to hit the ground running.

Ecuador - Enner Valencia

Captain Antonio Valencia boasts plenty of experience after spending the past decade at Manchester United, but namesake Enner - another player with Premier League pedigree - is the man Ecuador often rely on. Now plying his trade for Mexican side Tigres, his goal against Venezuela earlier this month saw him net in a sixth straight game for his country.

 

KEY OPTA FACTS

- Uruguay and Ecuador have met 45 times in all competitions, with 29 wins for La Celeste compared to just six for their opponents.
- Both Uruguay and Ecuador have won three of the last seven Copa America meetings between the two sides (D1); Uruguay had won each of the previous 10 contests prior to this.
- Uruguay have won the Copa America a record 15 times, while Ecuador have never won the competition in their 27 previous attempts – in fact, Ecuador have appeared in more Copa America tournaments than any other side yet to win the competition.
- Ecuador have conceded 311 goals at Copa America tournaments, more than any other side in the competition's history.
- In the last Copa America tournament in 2016, Uruguay were eliminated at the group stages; under the competition's current format (since 1975), they have never failed to progress from the group stages in consecutive editions.
- Ecuador reached the quarter-finals in 2016, their best finish since reaching the same stage in 1997; they advanced from their group alongside Peru, at the expense of Brazil and Haiti, but were ultimately knocked out by hosts USA.

Paraguay will hope last week's friendly win over Guatemala is the catalyst for a successful Copa America after what has been a challenging two years.

Eduardo Berizzo's side had failed to win in seven games before Sunday's routine victory – a run that stretched back to October 2017.

They face Asian Cup champions Qatar in their opening fixture and given that Argentina and Colombia are the other sides in Group B, Berizzo knows anything other than three points will make their chances of progression to the knock-out stages extremely difficult.

Along with Japan, Qatar have been invited to the tournament by CONMEBOL to bring the number of teams to 12.

Felix Sanchez's side surprised many when they went all the way in the Asian Cup at the start of the year, ultimately defeating Japan in the final to lift the trophy for the first time in their history.

Sanchez sees the Copa America as the perfect opportunity for his players to test themselves against quality opposition as they prepare to host the World Cup in 2022.

"Clearly the goal is to have a good national team in the World Cup," he explained. "The important thing is that the players will gain experience at the Copa America.

"They are accustomed to being strong and competitive. They are successful too, but our plan is to give the players the maximum opportunities to prepare for the World Cup in 2022."

 

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Paraguay – Miguel Almiron

The Newcastle United man made his first appearance in more than seven weeks against Guatemala after recovering from a hamstring injury. If he can stay fit, he will be expected to be the supply line for the likes of Oscar Cardozo and Derlis Gonzalez in attack.

Qatar – Almoez Ali 

The 22-year-old enjoyed a spectacular Asian Cup, with his nine goals more than twice as many as any other player scored in the tournament. Another successful campaign in Brazil could see some big clubs show an interest in the Al-Duhail forward.

 

KEY OPTA FACTS

- Paraguay and Qatar have met three times in all competitions, with one win for each side and one draw.
- Paraguay have won only one of their last eight meetings with Asian countries (drawn three, lost four), losing each of the last three.
- Copa America 2019 will mark Paraguay's 21st consecutive appearance in this tournament (37th in total), the longest ongoing run of all sides. They last failed to appear in 1957, when they withdrew.
- Qatar will be competing in the Copa America for the very first time, becoming the 19th different participant in the competition’s history – ninth outside of CONMEBOL and second outside of the Americas (Mexico, Costa Rica, USA, Honduras, Panama, Japan, Jamaica, Haiti and the 10 CONMEBOL nations complete the list of participants).
- Paraguay made it at least to the semi-finals in two of the last three Copa America editions (runners-up 2011, semi-finals 2015), despite winning only one of the 15 games played in those three campaigns (1-0 v Jamaica, in 2015).

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