Copa America 2015: Day 3 Takeaways

Ian Rodgers@irodgers66World Football Staff WriterJune 14, 2015

AP Images

After the opening two days of competition offered little in the way of excitement in Chile, the Copa America took off in La Serena.

Day 3 of the competition saw heavyweights Uruguay and Argentina enter the fray in their opening Group B encounters.

Few experts gave their respective opponents, Jamaica and Paraguay, a chance against the holders and the favourites.

But the first Saturday of the Copa America proved to be a day in which nobody could take anything for granted.

Here are our takeaways from Day 3 in Chile.

1. Uruguay still paying price of Luis Suarez's World Cup bite

The absence of Suarez from Oscar Tabarez's squad was always going to be an awkward one for the head coach to deal with.

The Barcelona star has ridden a crest of success at the Camp Nou this season, collecting the Liga title, the Copa del Rey and the Champions League on his way.

Coupled with the retirement of Diego Forlan, who scored twice in the 2011 final, Uruguay were short on firepower as they failed to trouble Reggae Boyz goalkeeper Duwayne Kerr in their tie.

Ricardo Mazalan/Associated Press

Suarez, of course, is still serving a FIFA suspension for biting Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini during the World Cup last year.

On his Twitter feed, the former Liverpool striker voiced his pain at missing out, as reported by Sport.

Suarez is quoted as saying:

I have a lot of confidence in my teammates. All of Uruguay is with them... 

And I will support them to the maximum, even though it hurts a lot not to be there with you all. I wish you a lot of success for this debut. Come on Uruguay. COME ON!!!

But Edinson Cavani failed to make any kind of impact as the main forward for Uruguay against Jamaica, leaving a gaping hole where the trickery and pace of Suarez previously stood.

2. Reggae Boys revel in first Copa America

Jamaica might be guests at the Copa America after being invited to play in the tournament for the first time, but they appeared to leave with an unexpected gift against the holders.

The Reggae Boyz held their own, especially in the first period in Antofagasta, and were left to rue a gilt-edged opportunity missed by Darren Mattocks in the first half.

The Vancouver Whitecaps man made space for himself by evading Diego Godin in the 40th minute, but perhaps sensing the importance of the moment, he miscued his shot horribly and the chance was gone.

Francisco J. Meneses @FJ_Meneses

#LoHorroroso: El "para que te traje" de Mattocks ante #URU https://t.co/jYy510dH0a

However, Mattocks can take some solace from the praise heaped on him by Conor Dowley of SB Nation:

Mattocks was the best player out on the pitch for Jamaica today, harrying Uruguay's back line to create problems for the defending Copa America champs and consistently being the most dangerous Jamaica player going forward when the Reggae Boyz launched a counter-attack.

His athleticism and quickness created matchup concerns for Uruguay, and even when he wasn't on the ball in attack, Mattocks frequently pulled either Rodin or Jose Gimenez out of position for his strike partner, Giles Barnes, to try to exploit.

The 24-year-old forward looks like one to watch when Jamaica try to build on the display against Uruguay when they face Paraguay on Tuesday.

3. Lionel Messi and Argentina pay the price for complacency

Argentina are widely regarded as favourites to lift the trophy this year, and a two-goal first-half advantage against Paraguay seemed to underline that status.

Gerardo Martino's side were barely out of second gear as Sergio Aguero and a Lionel Messi penalty gave them a 2-0 lead in the opening 35 minutes in La Serena.

Paraguay simply weren't in the contest, and this was expected to be a procession to a healthy goal difference after just one match in Group B.

We were due a game to match the glamour of the South American championships, but it was Paraguay who rose to the occasion. They took full advantage as Messi and Co. appeared to relax after half-time.

Nelson Valdez hit a stunning strike in the 61st minute to give his team a lifeline before Argentina-born Lucas Barrios rattled home a deserved equaliser in the final minute of an enthralling tie.

Argentina will recognise their failings from the second 45 minutes, but the lapses mean Tuesday's clash with Uruguay has become more vital than it was as the players enjoyed their half-time break.

Matching the entertainment value of the 2-2 draw with Paraguay wouldn't go amiss either.

4. Sergio Romero thwarts the redemption of Miguel Samudio

Whatever the final score was, one man was not going to forget his opening 2015 Copa America match.

Paraguay left-back Samudio produced a superbly timed tackle to thwart Aguero in the 22nd minute. It was the definition of the perfect interception as the America defender chased the Manchester City man into his own area and stuck out his leg at precisely the right time to deny the striker.

Ricardo Mazalan/Associated Press

Samudio could right feel proud of that moment, but he then undermined his moment of glory in spectacular fashion.

Seven minutes later, the 28-year-old suffered a "brain fade" of horrendous proportions as his wayward back pass allowed Aguero a free run on goal before rounding stand-in Paraguay goalkeeper Antony Silva to open the scoring.

At this point, anyone's head would go down, but Samudio is made of sterner stuff and was back on defensive duty six minutes later as Angel Di Maria hared into the area. But instead of repeating the Aguero challenge, Samudio felled the Manchester United star to gift Messi a spot-kick, which he did not refuse.

It was an awful night for the wing-back, but his chance of redemption came in the 77th minute. The ball fell for the Liga MX man inside the area, and he raced on to the ball and fired toward goal with ferocity.

For a split second, it looked as though everything could turn out well for Samudio—the headlines would have to be rewritten—but instead Argentina goalkeeper Sergio Romero struck out a hand to punch the effort over the crossbar.

Daniel Edwards @DanEdwardsGoal

Romero!!! Miguel Samudio looks to atone for first-half errors with the equaliser, but Chiquito comes up with massive one-hand save

Samudio must now wait for the midweek match against Jamaica for his next opportunity to complete the circle from hero to villain and back again.


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