Copa America

Paraguay out of luck in Copa final

Marcelo Estigarribia walks away from as Uruguay celebrates their Copa America title.
COPA AMERICA
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BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP)

Paraguay finally ran out of luck at the Copa America, losing 3-0 to Uruguay in the final on Sunday to make it six straight matches without a victory at the tournament.

After advancing from the quarterfinals and semifinals on penalties, Paraguay couldn't overcome another poor performance against an experienced Uruguayan team at Monumental stadium.

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The team's lack of attacking firepower proved costly after being unable to rebound from conceding an early goal, missing the opportunity to win its first South American title since 1979.

Hands on their hips, the Paraguayan players watched on as the nearby Uruguayans jumped in celebration, the losers hugging each other in consolation.

''It's wonderful to have reached the final,'' Paraguay defender Paulo Da Silva said. ''We wanted to win it, obviously. But we leave knowing that at least we played with dignity.''

Diego Forlan scored twice and Luis Suarez once for Uruguay, which won a record 15th Copa America title, one more than Argentina.

Paraguay was trying to win its third South American trophy, after victories in 1953 and 1979.

The Paraguayans also hadn't been able to score in the quarterfinals and the semifinals. The team was badly outplayed by defending champion Brazil in the quarters, only holding on thanks to an outstanding performance by Justo Villar, who was selected as the tournament's best goalkeeper.

Villar also starred in the semis against Venezuela, playing well in regulation and extra time and making a stop in the penalty shootout. Paraguay was saved by the woodwork three times against the Venezuelans.

''Uruguay played better than we did,'' Villar said. ''But we have to understand that we arrived in the final completely exhausted physically after two matches with extra time and penalties, against Brazil and Venezuela.''

There was nothing Villar could do on Sunday, though.

It looked like things were going Paraguay's way again when Brazilian referee Salvio Fagundes failed to see a clear handball by a Paraguayan defender early in the first half, but shortly after the team conceded the first goal.

Suarez opened the scoring from close range in the 12th minute. Forlan added to the lead with a fierce shot from just inside the area in the 33rd, effectively ending Paraguay's hopes. Forlan sealed the victory with a goal in the final minute.

Without injured star striker Roque Santa Cruz, Paraguay had difficulties breaking through the Uruguayan defense.

The team's only chance in the first half came from a long pass to striker Nelson Haedo Valdez in the 16th, but his shot from close range went over the crossbar. It was the team's only shot on goal in the first half.

Valdez also had the best chance in the second period, his volley hitting the crossbar after a fingertip touch from goalkeeper Fernando Muslera in the 54th.

Against Brazil in the quarterfinals, Paraguay's first shot on goal came in the 88th minute.

Paraguay advanced from the first stage in third place in Group B, behind Brazil and Venezuela. The team drew 0-0 with Ecuador, 2-2 with Brazil and 3-3 with Venezuela en route to the second round.

Paraguay's Argentine coach, Gerardo Martino, couldn't count on Santa Cruz after the striker injured his leg earlier in the tournament. He had already missed the quarterfinal match against Brazil and played only a few minutes in the semifinal against Venezuela. Midfielder Aureliano Torres and midfielder Edgar Barreto also were left out of Sunday's lineup because of injury.

Martino himself could not watch the match from the bench after being sent off in the semifinal when he and assistant Jorge Pautasso repeatedly argued with the referee. Pautasso also was absent from the dugout.

Paraguayan federation officials said Martino would decide this week whether he would remain with the national team for the upcoming South American World Cup qualifying tournament.

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Tales Azzoni can be reached at http://twitter.com/tazzoni

 

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