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COPA AMERICA

A rare victory for Venezuela

July 01, 2007|From the Associated Press

MARACAIBO, VENEZUELA — Venezuela won for only the second time in 47 matches at the Copa America on Saturday, moving to the verge of the quarterfinals with a 2-0 victory over Peru.

Earlier, two-time World Cup champion Uruguay struggled past a relatively weak rival, Bolivia, 1-0.

Today, soccer powerhouse Brazil takes on Chile in Maturin, attempting to recover from its humbling opening loss against Mexico, 2-0. Ecuador and Mexico face off in the other Group B match.

After playing in front of a home crowd with a man advantage for 35 minutes, defender Alejandro Cichero gave Venezuela the lead in the 49th, outleaping the Peru defense and heading Ricardo Maldonado's corner kick inside the right post.

Despite Ricardo Paez's expulsion for a second yellow card in the 78th minute, substitute Daniel Arismendi doubled the lead a minute later, driving a ball low on a rain-soaked pitch from outside the area past diving Peru keeper Leao Butron.

Venezuela's only other victory was a 3-0 win over Bolivia in its 1967 Copa America debut.

Before its opening 2-2 draw with Bolivia on Tuesday, the team had been outscored, 149-29.

The vinotinto has long been the weakest team in South American football, but after a string of victories against its regional rivals in recent years, the host of the 12-nation tournament is convinced it can advance to the quarterfinals for the first time.

Despite beating Bolivia, Uruguay's offense continued to struggle. Its lone goal came in the 58th minute when a sliding Vicente Sanchez toed in a deflected ball from Diego Forlan.

With one match remaining, Venezuela leads Group A with four points, one more than Uruguay and Peru with three each. Bolivia has one point.

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