Copa America: Argentina cruises through, Brazil crashes out

© AFP
The line-up for the Copa America quarter-finals is complete, but the tournament has provided very mixed emotions for South America's big two.

Argentina's 3-0 victory over Bolivia on Tuesday handed them top spot in Group D, but Brazil's controversial 1-0 defeat in their final Group B match against Peru last Sunday saw them eliminated and head coach Dunga sacked.

Goals by Erik Lamela, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Victor ensured Argentina's progress to the last eight as the only team in the tournament to win all three group games.

Lionel Messi came on as a second-half substitute to further boost Argentina's chances of success.

Since Barcelona beat Sevilla 2-0 to win the Copa del Rey on May 22, Messi has suffered a back injury, testified in his tax fraud trial in Spain and scored a hat-trick off the bench in a 5-0 win over Panama last week.

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Fans chanted his name throughout the first-half as Argentina completely dominated the Bolivians.

"People want to see him – people pay all over the world to see him and he has to deal with that," said Argentina manager Gerardo Martino.

"Sometimes he has to play and sometimes he has to be on the bench, but he has that obligation to follow through for the fans who are paying to be there. He has to live with that."

Argentina now face Venezuela in the last eight as they look to claim their first major international championship since winning the Copa America in 1993.

With 12 wins from their last 13 meetings, Argentina will be confident of seeing off Venezuela and securing a semi-final place against either the USA or Ecuador.

The US sealed their quarter-final place after finishing top of Group A. They lost their opening game 2-0 against Colombia, but bounced back with victories against Costa Rica and Paraguay.

Jurgen Klinsmann's team came in for criticism after the Colombia defeat, but have shown character to bounce back and progress to the next round against Ecuador without conceding another goal.

Goalkeeper Brad Guzan said: "You need that toughness – you need it to build on.

"We have got good players who can change a game but you also need that resolute defending, that hunger and desire to block shots and put yourself on the line."

With Colombia resting 10 players and losing to Costa Rica, the US were handed top spot and the chance to avoid what they thought would be a quarter-final with Brazil.

Ecuador's 4-0 win against Haiti, coupled with Brazil's shock loss against Peru, saw that script firmly ripped up.

The US have held the upper hand against Ecuador in recent times, winning three and drawing two of their last six meetings.

Brazil's shock exit from the Copa America group stages for the first time since 1987 resulted in Dunga's dismissal.

The 52-year-old had previously been in charge from 2006 to 2010, winning the Copa America in 2007.

"The Brazilian Football Confederation decided this Tuesday to dissolve the technical commission of the Brazilian national team," the CBF said in a short statement.

"National teams coordinator Gilmar Rinaldi, coach Dunga and their entire team will leave their posts.

"The CBF has begun the process of choosing a new technical commission for the Brazilian team."

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Corinthians manager Tite is the favorite for the role after leading his club to Brazil's Serie A title in 2011 and 2015, as well as the Copa Libertadores and a first-ever World Club Cup in 2012.

Peru versus Colombia and Mexico against Chile completes the Copa America quarter-finals line-up.

Colombia will fancy their chances against Peru, having lost just once in their last 13 games, while Mexico's record of just two defeats in their previous 12 meetings with Chile bodes well for their chances.

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