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Copa America: Argentina dispatches Qatar to advance (video)

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A roundup of Sunday’s action from the final round of Group B play at the 2019 Copa America in Brazil…

[ WOMEN’S WORLD CUP: France gets by Brazil in ET | England bests Cameroon ]

Qatar 0-2 Argentina

Argentina bounced back from a defeat and a draw in their first two games to avoid what would have been an indefensible disaster — failing to advance from the group — by beating Qatar 2-0 in the two sides’ Group B finale.

Lautaro Martinez scored what turned out to be the game-winner after just four minutes. Qatar attempted to play the ball out of the back, but a pass from a Qatari defender was badly mishit and went straight to Martinez, who was quick to corral the ball and run it down for a one-time finish from just inside the box.

Sergio Aguero put the game to bed with a brilliant individual goal in the 82nd minute. After receiving the ball 40 yards from goal, Aguero bust forward and went past two defenders in a flash before picking out a small window to hit with his left-footed finish from 12 yards out.

Up next for Lionel Messi and Co., is a quarterfinal tangle with Venezuela.

Colombia 1-0 Paraguay

Having already secured a place in the quarters, Colombia finished group play with a perfect nine-point record and locked up first place in the group edging past Paraguay.

Gustavo Cuellar bagged the game’s only goal in the 31st minute, when he snuck the ball between the goalkeeper’s legs from an impossibly tight angle.

Colombia finished Group B with three victories, by way of four goals scored and zero goals conceded.

Monday’s Copa America schedule

Chile v. Ecuador — 7 p.m. ET
Ecuador v. Japan — 7 p.m. ET

Copa America: Guests Japan, Qatar still alive ahead of group finales

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PORTO ALEGRE, Brazil (AP) Both Copa America guests are still alive as the last round of group stage matches begins, a feature that doesn’t seem to please some of their South American opponents.

Qatar and Japan, who this year played in the Asian Cup final, are in third place in their groups. The top two in each group and the two best third-place finishers advance to the quarterfinals.

If Argentina is prematurely eliminated, it will be because of Qataris with little international experience who are preparing for the 2022 World Cup.

Japan sent to Brazil an under-23 team that is being groomed for the Tokyo Olympics next year.

Asian champion Qatar has so far drawn with Paraguay 2-2 and lost to Colombia 1-0.

“We have come to compete, not to take pictures, even if we admire the players of the teams we are facing,” Qatar’s Spanish coach Felix Sanchez said on Saturday. “Our main goal is to evaluate ourselves in a tournament of this caliber, so demanding.”

After winning the Asian Cup, Sanchez’s contract was extended until the end of the next World Cup. On Sunday, his team will have the chance to upset Lionel Messi.

“It would be beautiful to qualify no matter if it is against a monster like Argentina,” Sanchez said. “It will be a great step, even though we know they are also trying to advance to the next stage.”

The Qataris have already been invited to return to next year’s Copa, split between Colombia and Argentina. Australia will be a guest side in 2020.

Japan was thrashed by Chile 4-0 but held favorite Uruguay to 2-2 after leading twice. On Monday the young Japanese can eliminate Ecuador to advance and, depending on other results, possibly face host Brazil in the quarterfinals on Thursday.

Venezuela coach Rafael Dudamel is particularly upset with Japan’s decision to bring its Olympic team.

“I do not agree that a guest like Japan gives due importance to its participation by coming with players that are mostly under 23,” Dudamel said Saturday after Venezuela beat Bolivia 3-1 and qualified to the quarterfinals of Copa America.

“I raise my voice and say Copa America needs to be only for South American teams,” he added. “We have not seen South American teams be invited to the African Cup of Nations, tournaments in Europe… We have to respect the hierarchy that we have historically built.”

The list of Copa America guests in past editions is long: Mexico, Costa Rica, United States, Jamaica, Honduras, Panama, Canada and Japan. Mexico had the best result among those, reaching the final in 1993 and in 2001.

Paraguay coach Eduardo Berizzo said he doesn’t like the idea of teams outside of the Americas such as Qatar and Japan playing the Copa America.

“Playing among all American teams, that is logic,” Berizzo said after drawing Qatar. “We should think of a Copa America with Central and North Americas integrated. I never saw any European cup with South American teams. I strongly believe that Copa America needs to be played by American teams.”

Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez said business was the main reason to invite teams to the Copa America.

“We are few countries in South America to organize a tournament with 10 teams, even more so with four phases like in a World Cup,” Tabarez said.

Watch Live: Copa America — Day 6

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The Copa America continues on Day six with an action packed evening filled with plenty of great storylines.

Colombia, after putting another notch in its belt off a 2-0 comprehensive win over Argentina, takes on Copa America invitee Qatar, which completed a terrific comeback to draw 2-2 with Paraguay. In the nightcap, Paraguay takes on its neighbor Argentina, with some members of Paraguay’s squad from Argentina originally and a long rivalry between the two nations on the field that could bring some fireworks in this evening’s match.

[ LIVE: Watch every single Copa America game ]

You can watch every single game from the tournament live online in Spanish via Telemundo Deportes and via the NBC Sports App. All you have to do is click on the links below.

2019 Copa America schedule

Group B: Colombia v. Qatar – 5:30 p.m. ET – STREAM LIVE
Group B: Argentina v. Paraguay – 8:30 p.m. ET – STREAM LIVE

Platini arrested as part of 2022 World Cup investigation

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PARIS (AP) Former UEFA president Michel Platini has been arrested in relation to the awarding of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar, a judicial official said Tuesday.

Confirming a report by online news publication Mediapart, the official said Platini was taken into custody on Tuesday as part of the investigation into the awarding of the tournament. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss an ongoing investigation.

Platini, a former France soccer great, was being detained at the Anti-Corruption Office of the Judicial Police outside Paris. Claude Gueant, the former secretary general of the Elysee under former French president Nicolas Sarkozy, was also questioned by investigators as part of the probe but was not detained.

French financial prosecutors have been investigating the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups and previously questioned former FIFA president Sepp Blatter. France’s financial prosecutor services opened the investigation on grounds of private corruption, criminal association, influence peddling and benefiting from influence peddling relating to the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, which were awarded to Russia and Qatar, respectively.

Platini’s lawyer and adviser did not immediately answer messages from The Associated Press seeking comments.

Much intrigue has centered on Platini’s decision to vote for Qatar.

Blatter, who was FIFA president at the time of the vote in 2010, blamed Platini for backing out of a secret “gentleman’s agreement” to award the 2022 tournament to the United States.

Platini told the AP in 2015 that he “might have told” American officials that he would vote for the United States bid. However, he changed his mind after a November 2010 meeting, hosted by then-President Nicolas Sarkozy at his official residence in Paris and Qatar’s crown prince, now Emir, Tamin bin Hamad al-Thani.

Platini has long insisted that the meeting did not influence his vote for Qatar less than two weeks later.

“Sarkozy never asked me to vote for Qatar, but I knew what would be good,” he told the AP in 2015.

But Blatter claimed in a 2015 interview with the Financial Times that Platini told him ahead of the World Cup vote: “I am no longer in your picture because I have been told by the head of state that we should consider the situation of France.”

Both Platini and Blatter were toppled from their positions of power at the top of soccer in 2015. Platini was banned by FIFA for financial misconduct in relation to a $2 million payment authorized by Blatter – a suspension due to expire in October.

Qatar’s methods to bring the World Cup to the Middle East for the first time have been subject to investigations by FIFA. American attorney Michael Garcia found that some of Qatar’s conduct “may not have met the standards” required by FIFA but concluded there was no “evidence of any improper activity by the bid team.”

AP Global Soccer Writer Rob Harris in Nice, France, contributed to this report.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Copa America: Lodeiro’s golazo paces Uruguay; Qatar, Paraguay draw (video)

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A roundup of all of Sunday’s action at the 2019 Copa America in Brazil…

[ WOMEN’S WORLD CUP: USA, Sweden advance ahead of Group F finale ]

Uruguay 4-0 Ecuador

Nicolas Lodeiro, in the company of Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani, completed Uruguay’s attacking trio to kick off La Celeste‘s Copa America quest on Sunday, and the Seattle Sounders star made the most of Oscar Tabarez’s faith by not only opening the scoring with a true golazo, but also by creating Uruguay’s second and third goals.

It was also Lodeiro who suffered the elbow to the face that saw Jose Quinteros sent off, and Ecuador reduced to 10 men, (following a lengthy video review) in the 24th minute.

Nine minutes after the red card, Cavani hit a side-volley to smash home two touches after Lodeiro headed the ball back into the box, bringing his tally of international goals to 47. 11 minute after that, Suarez poked home a second ball from Lodeiro’s corner kick to notch his record-extending 57th goal for Uruguay.

The rout was complete following Arturo Mina’s own goal in the 78th minute.

[ MORE: Copa America organizers worried about empty seats in Brazil ]

Paraguay 2-2 Qatar

Qatar, one of two guest nations (along with Japan) at the Copa America, fell 2-0 behind Paraguay before storming back to rescue a 2-2 draw and begin their first-ever Copa campaign with a point.

In truth, Qatar was the better side and would have never trailed by two goals if not for the early heroics of Paraguay goalkeeper Gatito Fernandez.

Paraguay went ahead after just four minutes, due to Pedro Miguel’s handball and Oscar Cardozo converting the ensuing penalty kick. Derlis Gonzalez made it 2-0 in the 56th minute, and advantage which held for all of 12 minutes before Almoez Ali halved Qatar’s deficit with a stunning strike in the 68th minute.

Juan Rodrigo Rojas was responsible for the equalizer — an own goal — just nine minutes later.

Monday’s Copa America schedule

Japan v. Chile — 7 p.m. ET