Colombia became the first side to book a spot in the Copa America Centenario quarter-finals after beating Paraguay in Pasadena, while the United States kept their hopes of advancing alive by thrashing Costa Rica 4-0.
Colombia’s 2-1 win put them top of Group A on six points, with the United States on three and the other two teams on one point each.
After losing their opener 2-0 to Colombia, the United States were in clinical form against the Costa Ricans in Chicago and scored three times in the first half through Clint Dempsey, Jermaine Jones and Bobby Wood.
Substitute Graham Zusi added a fourth in the 86th minute to cap the win and improve the hosts’ goal difference.
“It was important for us to get off to an early start,” said Dempsey.
“Once the second went in and the third we got into a bit of a rhythm.”
Costa Rica, who reached the World Cup quarter-finals in 2014, improved in the second half with captain Bryan Ruiz playing an influential role, but they were ineffective in the last third of the field.
Ruiz hit the post with a header midway through the second half but Costa Rica conceded a fourth goal in the dying moments when Zusi stole the ball in midfield and strode forward before slotting the ball home from 15 yards.
In the second Group A game yesterday, played at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, Colombia took a 2-0 lead in the first half but were pushed hard after the break by Paraguay.
Carlos Bacca scored the opener in the 12th minute with a header before James Rodriguez doubled Colombia’s lead with a left-foot strike on the half-hour mark.
Paraguay gradually played their way back into the match and hit the woodwork before half-time and then forced David Ospina into a world-class save in the 62nd minute, the Colombia goalkeeper diving full stretch to turn a header around the post.
Paraguay continued to dominate the second half and were rewarded when midfielder Victor Ayala scored with a stunning 30-yard rocket in the 71st minute.
However, they could not force an equaliser and Colombia hung on to take all three points and claim a berth in the next round.
Paraguay must now beat the United States on Saturday to have any chance of advancing to the quarter-finals.
Group B: Brazil vs Haiti; Ecuador vs Peru.
Group C: Uruguay vs Venezuela; Mexico vs Jamaica.
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