Football: Palermo punishes Ecuador

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The Independent Online
BOCA JUNIORS' prolific goal-scorer Martin Palermo claimed his first two goals for Argentina as the Copa America continued its thrilling opening. Palermo helped Argentina to a 3-1 win over Ecuador in the first of the two games in Group C on Thursday, and, in the other, a vibrant Colombia beat Uruguay by a single goal.

The competition has started impressively with a five-goal opening match between Peru and Japan, followed by Brazil's 7-0 defeat of Venezuela, a game that included a magical strike from the 19-year-old striker Ronaldo Assis.

Palermo, who was only called up after Gabriel Batistuta and Hernan Crespo asked to be rested, has now staked his claim for a regular place. In the 54th minute, he received a crossfield pass which he blasted past Ecuador's Jose Cevallos after Diego Simeone had given Argentina a 13th-minute lead. Eight minutes later, he scored with a right-footed volley after some poor marking by Ecuador's defence. In the 77th minute, Ivan Kaviedes fired home a free-kick to give Ecuador a consolation goal.

Colombia's young side were too strong for Uruguay, and although Victor Bonilla scored the only goal in the 27th minute, Hamilton Ricard had chances to put the tie beyond question.