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US win group after Costa Rica stun Colombia

United States’ Clint Dempsey celebrates after scoring against Paraguay during the first half of their Copa America Group A match at Philadelphia on Saturday.
 PHILADELPHIA, June 12: The United States beat Paraguay 1-0 and advanced to the quarterfinals of the Copa America as Group A winners on Saturday after Costa Rica stunned already-qualified Colombia 3-2.

The United States, who are hosting the tournament in its 100th anniversary, will next play the second-placed team in Group B. As it stands, Brazil top that group ahead of Peru and Ecuador, with Haiti already eliminated.

US forward Clint Dempsey converted a low cross from Gyasi Zardes in the 27th minute as the hosts had the better of the early exchanges.

However, the Americans were reduced to 10 men shortly after half-time when right back DeAndre Yedlin received two yellow cards within a minute for aggressive tackles.

“The boys showed a lot of heart, especially after that red card,” Dempsey said. “Man, we showed a lot of character and we’re proud to advance to the next round.”

Paraguay spent long periods in the US half but a backs-to-the-wall defensive display from the Americans saw them hang on for a gritty win.

The defeat sealed Paraguay’s worst Copa America display since 2001, the last time they failed to progress beyond the group stage.

Klinsmann fielded the same starting line-up for the third match running, setting up his side in a conventional 4-4-2 with Michael Bradley and Jermaine Jones in the centre of midfield shielding the back four.

A confident US opening period saw the hosts probe forward aggressively, although their first shot came from a setpiece, Fabian Johnson curling a free-kick over the wall in the sixth minute.

American adventure almost proved costly in the 11th minute however as Paraguay launched a swift counter-attack to set up a three-on-one scoring opportunity.

Only a superb covering tackle from John Brooks, intercepting Miguel Almiron as he bore down on goal, prevented what looked like being a certain Paraguay goal. – Agencies

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