Rio de Janeiro: A late header from Edinson Cavani gave Uruguay a 1-0 win over Copa America holders Chile on Monday which saw them snatch top spot in Group C at their opponents’ expense and set up a quarter-final meeting with Peru.
The striker glanced Jonathan Rodriguez’s cross into the net in the 82nd minute to break the deadlock in a finely balanced game played with a fierce competitive edge even though both teams had already sealed their place in the last eight.
Cavani had been sent off in Uruguay’s 1-0 defeat to Chile in the 2015 Copa America quarter-finals after being provoked by Gonzalo Jara and he and his teammates celebrated the goal as if it had just won them a trophy.
Chile, who had eased to victory in their first two games with Japan and Ecuador, came close to taking the lead in the second half when Paulo Diaz headed towards goal, but Uruguay defender Jose Gimenez nodded the ball off the line.
Uruguay’s Luis Suarez had the best opportunity before the interval when he found space in the area but opted to shoot rather than pass to his unmarked team mates and his attempt was deflected wide.
Suarez took his reputation as a fierce competitor to new heights by appealing for a handball — by Chile’s goalkeeper.
With the scores level, Suarez raced into the box and rounded Chile’s Gabriel Arias but the keeper rose again to punch the striker’s shot away for a corner.
Suarez, however, seemed to momentarily forget that Arias’ job is to stop shots with his hands and appealed for a penalty, gesticulating to the referee by pointing to his own hand.
The striker soon realised his mistake and stopped protesting, putting his hands on his head to console himself for the missed opportunity.
It was five years to the day when Suarez infamously bit Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini in a group stage decider at the 2014 World Cup, which saw him banned for four months.
Uruguay finished top of Group C with seven points, with Chile coming second on six and having to settle for a more challenging last-eight fixture with Colombia, who are the only side to have won all their three games in the tournament.
Japan came third with two points after drawing 1-1 with Ecuador, a result which condemned both sides and saw Paraguay of Group B sneak into the quarter-finals as the second-best ranked side to finish third despite only picking up two points.
Brazil v Paraguay, 4.30am Friday
Venezuela v Argentina, 11pm
Colombia v Chile, 3am Saturday
Uruguay v Peru, 11pm