Colombia and Brazil through to quarters

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Done and dusted: Brazil are through to the quarter finals.

Brazil shrugged off the absence of suspended captain Neymar to reach the Copa America quarter-finals with a 2-1 victory over Venezuela.

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Goals in each half from Paris Saint-Germain star Thiago Silva and Bundesliga-based striker Roberto Firmino clinched a win which ensured Brazil qualified for the last eight on top of Group C.

Venezuela’s goal came from Rayo Vallecano striker Nicolas Fedor in the 84th minute. Silva – who earlier celebrated finding the net with a dedication to Neymar – praised Brazil’s team effort.

“The best thing today is we had a very cohesive team,” he said. “Football is played this way — as a team.

“If you are an individual player you can lose focus on the collective effort. Neymar is missed, he won’t play any more in this Copa America. We played for him but in a different way.” Brazil will now face Group B runners-up Paraguay in the quarter-finals on Saturday.

“It’s going to be a tough match,” said Silva of the 2011 finalists, who knocked Brazil out four years ago.

“Any team here is hard. Paraguay got to the last Copa America final and got there on merit, beating us along the way.

“Beating them on Saturday will have a special meaning.” Brazil had suffered a shock 1-0 loss to Colombia in their last outing, a contest which ended with a post-match brawl that led to Neymar receiving a tournament-ending four-match ban.

Defeat to Venezuela on Sunday would have seen the five-time world champions making a humiliating first-round exit from the South American showpiece but that outcome never looked likely as Brazil dominated the start.

Brazil coach Dunga had opted to replace Neymar — looking down from the stands at Santiago’s Estadio Monumental — with Santos striker Robinho while the captain’s armband was passed to defender Miranda.

With Colombia being held to a 0-0 draw in the earlier Group C game, Brazil headed into the match comfortable in the knowledge that a point would be good enough.

But any suggestion Brazil would give Venezuela an easy ride was snuffed out in the opening minutes as they seized control of the contest.

The breakthrough came after only nine minutes. Robinho flighted a corner from the right into the heart of the penalty area and Silva was on hand to sidefoot a sweetly struck volley past goalkeeper Alain Baroja, who failed to react in time as the ball flew into the roof of the net.

Silva celebrated by gesturing support to the watching Neymar, signalling the suspended striker’s shirt number.

Brazil did not have long to wait for their second, however, which arrived on 52 minutes. Willian skipped away from Rosales with ease down the left flank before crossing to Firmino who sidefooted home from close range for 2-0.

Brazil looked to be heading to an easy victory but Venezuela ensured a tense finale with Fedor’s late goal.

Colombia, who reached the last eight as one of the two best third placed teams, now face Argentina in the quarter-finals.

Chile face Uruguay while Bolivia will play Peru.

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Argentina down Jamaica to reach Copa quarters

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Lionel Messi failed to score on his 100th appearance for Argentina.

Gonzalo Higuain fired the only goal as Argentina marked Lionel Messi’s 100th appearance with an unconvincing 1-0 win over Jamaica to reach the Copa America quarter-finals as group winners Saturday.

Napoli striker Higuain, reportedly a transfer target for English giants Manchester United and Arsenal, struck in the 11th minute to ensure Argentina finished on top of Group B ahead of Paraguay and Uruguay.

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But it was another patchy performance from the 2014 World Cup finalists, who made desperately hard work of breaking down a side ranked 65th in the world.

The build-up to the match in Vina del Mar had been dominated by Messi, who took to the field wearing boots emblazoned with “100” as he brought up a century of caps.

After a one-sided opening spell it looked as if the South American giants were ready to lay on a goal feast to mark their captain’s milestone.

But Jamaica, whose players are drawn mostly from Major League Soccer and the lower leagues of English football, proved surprisingly resilient, with goalkeeper Dwayne Miller producing some fine saves.

Messi, Higuain and Manchester United star Angel Di Maria all started brightly, bristling with energy and intent as Jamaica struggled to get out of their own half in the opening minutes.

The early pressure paid off when Di Maria crossed low to Higuain, who took one touch before spinning smartly to shoot low past Miller for 1-0.

Higuain almost doubled his tally in the 22nd minute when he broke clear and lobbed Miller only to see his shot bounce off the crossbar.

Di Maria should have made it 2-0 on 39 minutes, bursting from deep inside his own half but electing to shoot when he could have squared to an unmarked Messi.

Jamaica keeper Miller was then pressed into action again, tipping over from Di Maria just before half-time.

Di Maria had Miller beaten early in the second half when he sent a rasping left foot shot crashing back off the woodwork as Jamaica survived again.

Messi was the next to be frustrated by Miller, lifting an exquisite chip over the Sweden-based stopper only to see the 27-year-old just manage to pluck the ball down with his fingertips.

As the game progressed, Argentina looked increasingly devoid of inspiration, and the match finished with Chilean fans giving roars of “Ole” whenever Jamaica put together sequences of passes.

The final moments saw Jamaica pressuring Argentina’s defence but unable to grab the equaliser which could have forced the drawing of lots with Paraguay to determine the winners of Group B.

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Uruguay secure quarter-final place with 1-1 draw against Paraguay

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Edinson Cavani (L) and Nestor Ortigoza vie for the ball during their Copa America clash.

Holders Uruguay made sure of their place in the Copa America quarter-finals here Saturday after battling to a 1-1 draw with Paraguay in a rematch of the 2011 final.

Uruguay secured the point they needed to advance to the last eight from Group B after taking the lead through Jose Maria Gimenez before Paraguay equalised on the stroke of half-time with a goal from Lucas Barrios.

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Paraguay were already guaranteed a place in the knockout rounds after results elsewhere on Friday, when Ecuador's win over Mexico in Group A ensured they would qualify.

Uruguay, beaten by Argentina in their second match, took the lead after 29 minutes through Gimenez, who rose high to meet a corner from Carlos Sanchez with a powerful downward header.

But Paraguay hit back shortly before half-time with a set-piece goal of their own.

Mexico-based forward Edgar Benitez curled in an inviting corner and Barrios timed his run to perfection and outmuscled Gimenez to send a thumping header into the top corner.

The result leaves Paraguay with five points from three games in Group B. Argentina, who have four points from two games, can win the group later Saturday if they defeat minnow Jamaica in the day's other game.

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