Colombia, Uruguay secure Copa America semifinal spots

Jhon Cordoba, James Rodriguez and Luis Diaz scored goals during a dominant first half to spark Colombia to a 5-0 win over Panama in the quarterfinals of the Copa America on Saturday.

Colombia — which came into Saturday on a 26-match unbeaten streak — wasted little time on No. 27 when Cordoba’s well-placed header in the eighth minute found the bottom corner of the net following a corner kick from Rodriguez.

Los Cafeteros pushed ahead 2-0 less than 10 minutes later on Rodriguez’s powerful penalty kick. Colombia was awarded the penalty after Panama goalie Orlando Mosquera tripped up Colombia’s Jhon Arias, who was sprinting to save the ball from going out of bounds near the post.

It was the 32-year-old Rodriguez’s 28th goal in international play and his all-around excellence was on full display against Panama.

“He’s a good player, there’s nothing to explain,” said Colombia coach Nestor Lorenzo. “He’s a player who is happy inside the field.”

Colombia made it 3-0 in the 41st minute when Diaz lobbed a shot over Mosquera, who had charged forward during the breakaway. The goal was set up by another good pass from Rodriguez.

Uruguay wins penalty shootout

Colombia advances to the semifinals on Wednesday against Uruguay, who edged Brazil 4-2 in a penalty shootout after going down to 10 men in a bruising 0-0 draw on Saturday night.

Sergio Rochet saved Brazil’s first penalty in the shootout from Eder Militao while his teammate Douglas Luiz hit the post to give Uruguay the upper hand.

Although keeper Alisson Becker denied Jose Maria Gimenez and Gabriel Martinelli scored to keep Brazil alive, Manuel Ugarte buried the decisive spot kick as Uruguay advanced.

With Vinicius Jr suspended for Brazil and watching on from the stands, Dorival Jr’s side struggled to create opportunities despite having a man-advantage late in the second half when Uruguay’s Nahitan Nandez was sent off.

In a bruising encounter with 41 fouls from both teams, players from both sides were involved in physical battles across the pitch.

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