Thu, Jul 08, 2004 - Page 20 News List

Colombia gets win as Peru draws

AP , LIMA, PERU

Bolivian Joaquin Botero celebrates his goal against Peru during the first half of their Copa America first round Group A match in Lima, Tuesday.

PHOTO: REUTERS

Colombia began its title defense by beating Venezuela 1-0, and host Peru rallied to draw Bolivia 2-2 on the Copa America's opening night Tuesday.

Coach Reinaldo Rueda gave his side no chance of repeating as champion, but Colombia impressed in winning its seventh consecutive Copa match without conceding a goal, and grabbing the lead in Group A.

"It was important to start with a victory, on the right foot," Colombia goalie Juan Carlos Henao said.

But after the tournament host gave a dazzling opening ceremony by showing off the Andes and its ancient culture, it let lowly Bolivia grab the spotlight at sold-out Nacional Stadium by going 2-0 up.

It took second-half goals by Claudio Pizarro and Roberto Palacios, who equalized five minutes from time, for Peru to escape a potentially humbling loss in its opener.

"The result should have been different. We played well enough to win but we lost too many chances at goal," Peru coach Paulo Autuori said.

On Friday, Peru plays Venezuela, and Bolivia meets Colombia.

Group B matches on Wednesday feature 14-time winner Argentina against Ecuador, and world No. 4 Mexico facing Uruguay, another 14-time Copa champion.

Tressor Moreno scored Colombia's only goal on a penalty kick in the 22nd minute, after Venezuela goalkeeper Gilberto Angelucci was called for tripping up Moreno during a breakaway.

Venezuela beat Colombia for the first time last November and came to the tournament confident of ending its reputation as the easybeats of South America, but the defeat meant it's still seeking a second win at the Copa since its debut in 1967.

Colombia wasted little time in testing 'keeper Angelucci, creating three dangerous scoring opportunities in the opening 10 minutes.

Peru breathed a collective sigh of relief from its draw, after Bolivian goals by Joaquin Botero and Lorgio Alvarez threatened to derail the host's high hopes of riding home ground advantage to its first title since 1975.

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