Belo Horizonte: Uruguay started the Copa America in style, showing why they are considered one of the favourites for the South American title.
With Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez in top form, Uruguay earned a comfortable 4-0 win over 10-man Ecuador in their opening match.
Cavani, Suarez and Nicolas Lodeiro scored in the first half, and an own-goal by Ecuadorean defender Arturo Mina after half-time sealed the victory for a dominant Uruguayan squad in the Group C match at the Mineirao Stadium.
“It was an important first step for us,” Cavani said. “We have to try to keep this momentum during the rest of the tournament.”
Uruguay played with an extra man from the 24th minute after Ecuador’s Jose Quintero was red-carded for elbowing Lodeiro during a ball dispute. Quintero was initially given a yellow, but video review determined he deserved a red.
Uruguay were already in control when Quintero was sent off at the Mineirao, which held a small crowd of about 13,000 people.
Lodeiro opened the scoring in the sixth minute, controlling a pass from Suarez inside the area and lobbing the ball over a defender before finding the net.
“After the red card the game opened up and we dominated,” Lodeiro said. “It was an important opening victory. We have to keep going game by game, always trying to improve.”
Cavani had two close-range attempts saved by Ecuador goalkeeper Alexander Dominguez before finally scoring with a volley in the 33rd, then Suarez added to the lead after a corner kick in the 44th.
The fourth goal came when Mina tried to clear a ball crossed into the area in the 78th but put it into his own net. The goal also had to be confirmed by video review. Uruguay had two goals disallowed for offside, one in each half.
Ecuador finished with only on shot on goal, coming in the first minute of the match.
“They were better than us in every aspect,” Ecuador coach Hernan Dario Gomez said. “Uruguay is a great team, very experienced.”
Uruguay are the Copa America’s most successful team with 15 titles, one more than Argentina. Their last Copa America title was in 2011.
Uruguay next face Japan on Thursday in Porto Alegre, while Ecuador take on Chile in Salvador.
Uruguay 4 Ecuador 0
Paraguay 2 Qatar 2