Uruguay routs Bolivia 5-0 at Copa America as Núñez scores in 7th straight game

Facundo Pellistri put the Uruguayans ahead in the eighth minute and Núñez doubled the lead in the 21st with his 10th goal in his last seven games for Uruguay and 13th in 25 matches overall.
Uruguay's Ronald Araujo, center, and teammates celebrate their team's 5-0 victory over Bolivia at the end of a Copa America Group C soccer match in East Rutherford, N.J., Thursday, June 27, 2024.
Uruguay's Ronald Araujo, center, and teammates celebrate their team's 5-0 victory over Bolivia at the end of a Copa America Group C soccer match in East Rutherford, N.J., Thursday, June 27, 2024.(Photo | AP)

EAST RUTHERFORD: Darwin Núñez and his Uruguayan teammates romped through Bolivia's defense as if it were a training game.

Núñez scored in his seventh straight international match, a 5-0 rout on Thursday night that moved Uruguay a to the verge of a Copa America quarterfinal.

“There are still several important steps to take in order to be convinced that Uruguay can reach the level we imagine with the individual talent it has," Uruguay coach Marcelo Bielsa said. “It would be incorrect to make conclusions.”

Facundo Pellistri put the Uruguayans ahead in the eighth minute and Núñez doubled the lead in the 21st with his 10th goal in his last seven games for Uruguay and 13th in 25 matches overall.

Maximiliano Araújo scored his second goal of the tournament in the 77th, and Federico Valverde (81st) and Rodrigo Bentancur (89th) added goals in Uruguay's first five-goal game since beating Panama 5-0 in a June 2022 friendly.

“We have to keep playing with high intensity, a nonstop effort to rout the opponent,” Pellistri said.

Seeking its record 16th Copa America title, Uruguay is 2-0 for six points with a plus-seven goal difference and would advance with at least a draw on Monday against the U.S. at Kansas City, Missouri, or perhaps even a loss. The U.S. has three points and plus-one goal difference and Panama three points and minus-one difference.

Bolivia has lost 14 consecutive Copa America matches dating to 2015 and has one win in its last 32. With no points and a minus-seven goal difference, it has almost no chance of advancing going into Monday’s match against Panama at Orlando, Florida. Bolivia is likely to be eliminated in the group stage for fourth straight time.

“This is the third-youngest team of the tournament,” Bolivia coach Antônio Carlos Zago said. “We need to trust the process, keep working. Other national teams have gone through this. We have to endure it and let the players grow.”

MetLife Stadium’s upper deck was nearly empty and the site of the 2026 World Cup final drew 48,033. Two days earlier, Lionel Messi and Argentina drew a sellout crowd of 81,106 for a 1-0 win over Chile.

Bolivia made six changes from its opening 2-0 loss to the U.S. and Uruguay quickly went ahead.

Nicolás de la Cruz played a long free kick down a flank and Ronald Araújo outjumped Luis Haquin to center a header. Mathías Olivera couldn’t reach it and the ball bounced before Pellistri nodded it in for his second international goal.

Núñez, who took seven shots in the first half, scored off a perfect weighed pass from Maximiliano Araújo on a quick counterattack.

Maximiliano Araújo made it 3-0 with third international goal, fed by de la Cruz after Bolivia turned over the ball in midfield. Valverde scored his seventh after exchanging passes with Pellistri and Bentancur headed in Giorgian de Arrascaet's free kick for his second international goal, three minutes after entering.

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