Uruguay fans celebrate after Copa America victory

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The Independent Online

Thousands of Uruguayan soccer fans, many with faces painted sky blue, flooded into the streets of the capital on Sunday to celebrate their team's record-breaking Copa America triumph.

Striker Diego Forlan scored twice after Luis Suarez's opening goal as "La Celeste" beat Paraguay 3-0 to be crowned South American champions for a record 15th time.

Some 3,000 fans watched the final on a giant television screen set up in Montevideo's central avenue despite the chilly winter weather and the final whistle unleashed a cacophony of car horns and singing.

"I'm so excited because we won by playing great football ... with skillful play, with teamwork," fan Neumar Noble said. "It's not just about celebrating the win, it's also about celebrating the unity of this team."

Sunday's performance is likely to reaffirm Uruguayan pride in the so-called Garra Charrua, which literally means the Charruan claw, a term used to refer to fighting to the bitter end.

The team are commonly nicknamed "Los Charruas" after a long-lost indigenous people.

It has been a good stretch for Uruguayan soccer. Just over a year ago, they finished fourth at the World Cup in South Africa.

Fans in the small nation of 3.4 million people are enjoying their renaissance on the international stage. It is their first Copa American triumph since 1995.

"I dreamed of this. After so many years, the fact that Uruguay is the best in the Americas, makes me happy and optimistic for the World Cup and all the other tournaments ahead," said Juan Santestevan as he joined the festivities.

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