Cavani pounces against Chile to give Uruguay top spot

Uruguay beat Chile 1-0 and advance to the quarter-final in the Copa America. (AFP pic)

RIO DE JANEIRO: A late header from Edinson Cavani gave Uruguay a 1-0 win over Copa America holders Chile on Monday which saw them snatch top spot in Group C at their opponents’ expense and set up a quarter-final meeting with Peru.

The striker glanced Jonathan Rodriguez’s cross into the net in the 82nd minute to break the deadlock in a finely balanced game played with a fierce competitive edge even though both teams had already sealed their place in the last eight.

Cavani had been sent off in Uruguay’s 1-0 defeat to Chile in the 2015 Copa America quarter-finals after being provoked by Gonzalo Jara and he and his teammates celebrated the goal as if it had just won them a trophy.

Chile, who had eased to victory in their first two games with Japan and Ecuador, came close to taking the lead in the second half when Paulo Diaz headed towards goal, but Uruguay defender Jose Gimenez nodded the ball off the line.

Uruguay’s Luis Suarez had the best opportunity before the interval when he found space in the area but opted to shoot rather than pass to his unmarked teammates and his attempt was deflected wide.

A spectator got onto the pitch late in the game and after evading security guards was tripped by Chile defender Jara.

Uruguay finished top of Group C with seven points, with Chile coming second on six and having to settle for a more challenging last-eight fixture with Colombia, who are the only side to have won all their three games in the tournament.

Japan came third with two points after drawing 1-1 with Ecuador, a result which condemned both sides and saw Paraguay of Group B sneak into the quarter-finals as the second-best ranked side to finish third despite only picking up two points.