Uruguay 0-1 Colombia takeaways: Argentina await Colombia in the final, Munoz sent off

And breathe. And perhaps locate the nearest defibrillator, just in case, because just the bare bones of this match are probably going to be enough to get your heart racing.

After an absorbing encounter in Charlotte, North Carolina, it was Colombia who emerged to earn a meeting against defending champions Argentina in the Copa America final in Miami on Sunday.

Jefferson Lerma leapt into the air in the 39th minute and his towering header saw Uruguay trail for the first time in this tournament.

Daniel Munoz received a second yellow card at the end of the first half for elbowing Manuel Ugarte, leaving Colombia with 10 men, but Nestor Lorenzo’s side held on. Somehow.

Jack Lang and Stuart James assess the key talking points…

Next up for Colombia… Argentina

On paper, it has the makings of a terrific final: the world champions up against a team that is unbeaten in 28 matches, stretching back more than two years. In fact, Colombia’s last defeat was against… Argentina.

That was a very different Colombia back then. Nestor Lorenzo had yet to take over as manager and James Rodriguez was yesterday’s man. Fast forward to the present day and Colombia and Rodriguez are unrecognisable.

The spotlight was on Lionel Messi before this Copa America but Rodriguez, who turns 33 on Friday, has stolen the show. He has six assists to his name in five matches and is unquestionably the player of the tournament.


James Rodriguez celebrates Colombia getting to the final (Timothy A. Clary/AFP via Getty Images)

Colombia will, however, have to face Argentina without one of their key players: Munoz’s red card against Uruguay means that he will miss the final through suspension – a huge blow bearing in mind the contribution that he makes going forward (two goals in Copa America and an assist) and without the ball.

As for Argentina, they have coasted through their five matches so far and barely needed to break sweat. Messi, you sense, is still waiting for that special moment. The fact that Argentina have looked so formidable without their talisman capturing his best form is ominous. Strap yourself in and enjoy the ride.

Stuart James

A quintessential Copa America game?

This was Copa America football — South American football — at its bewitching best, witnessed and enhanced by a crowd so fervently Colombian that we may as well have been in Medellin. There was only one goal but things were happening wherever you looked, and often in your peripheral vision, too.

You had James Rodriguez, his left foot like a waiter in a posh restaurant, cracking the game open with roughly his millionth assist of this tournament so far.

There was Luis Diaz, twisting like a dervish, carrying the attack to the Uruguay defence as if his very life depending on it.

Rodrigo Bentancur played his part, hanging round Rodriguez like a bad smell before limping off. So did Ugarte, pinching Munoz, a bit of pantomime nastiness that had exactly the desired effect.

Suarez Uruguay scaled

Luis Suarez makes his presence felt (Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

You had Richard Rios going for a dance in the corner, then collapsing in a heap. You had the referee allowing play to go on, letting Uruguay take a free kick even, before blowing up, surrounded by raging men in yellow shirts. You had Rios looking at the stretcher, jumping to his feet, then actually needing it a few minutes later, a little extra time wasted in between.

You had more fouls, tugs, nudges, pokes than your average UFC event. And Colombia, Uruguaying the hell out of Uruguay, every perceived slight a chance to squeeze a little more momentum out of the second half.

There was Luis Suarez, head in hands, a living meme after hitting the post, and Mateus Uribe at the other end, ensuring the drama continued. Twice.

Mainly, for what felt like half of forever, there was Uruguay attack and Colombia defence, the fans living all of it, stands literally bouncing up and down, the attrition so pure that it became attraction.

Football is goals, fantasy, joy. It is also this. And this was absolutely brilliant.

Jack Lang

Daniel Munoz’s moment of madness

Colombia were a goal to the good, the game was already in first-half stoppage time and the right-back reacted to one of the oldest tricks in the book: the dark arts of provocation.

Manuel Ugarte had hold of Munoz and may even have pinched him. Either way, it was ridiculous for Munoz to respond in the way that he did.

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The Crystal Palace defender threw his left elbow into the chest of Ugarte and the Uruguay midfielder dropped to the floor.

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Darwin Nunez waved his arms in the air as Ugarte went down, to draw the officials’ attention to the incident, but in reality there was no need for any Uruguay player to appeal; there was only going to be one outcome here. Munoz complained, gesturing that he had been fouled first, but his reaction was naive at best and plain stupid at worst.

Already on a yellow card, he was playing with fire by getting involved in any off-the-ball incident, let alone throwing an elbow. Ugarte had ‘played’ Munoz, and Colombia knew that the balance of the game had totally shifted.

Stuart James

Oh, Darwin Nunez

You can understand why one of Marcelo Bielsa’s first items of business when he took the Uruguay job was to install Darwin Nunez as his main striker. Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez? Sorry, fellas; football is a running game and you’ve got to have the legs, particularly when your coach wants to press the opposition into another dimension.

Nunez, with his wild-horse energy, is a natural Bielsa forward. He chases people, makes decent runs and pursues lost causes like they were business opportunities. He creates space for the likes of Nicolas de la Cruz and Fede Valverde by stretching the play. None of this is really up for debate. Nor is Nunez’s inherent lovability.

Can you feel a ‘but’ coming? Of course you can. Nunez’s finishing here was like Nunez’s finishing everywhere: deeply, irredeemably haphazard.

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(Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images)

Twice in the first half he should have given Uruguay the lead. The first chance fell on his left foot, near the penalty spot. Nunez slammed the ball wide. A few minutes later — after another, much trickier half-chance that we can forgive him for shanking — he sprinted onto a hopeful pass forward, gathered the ball after a misjudgement by Davinson Sanchez and clobbered a stunning, unstoppable effort… into the crowd.

The camera cut to his face. Nunez let out a primal howl. So too did millions of Uruguayans.

Against Brazil, he got away with missing a sitter of a header thanks to the hard work of his team-mates. This time, his profligacy ended up costing La Celeste.



Dissecting Darwin Nunez: From his Liverpool toils to thriving as Uruguay’s front man

Jack Lang

What’s next?

Colombia will face Argentina in the final on Sunday, July 14 at 8:00 p.m. ET (Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens, Florida).

Uruguay head to the third-place game and will face Canada on Saturday, July 13 at 8:00 p.m. ET (Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, North Carolina).

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 (Top photo: Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

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