Colombia down U.S. hosts 2-0 in Copa opener

Sat Jun 4, 2016 1:03am EDT
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By Rory Carroll

SANTA CLARA, California (Reuters) - Colombia scored two first half goals to tame hosts the United States and open the Copa America tournament with a convincing 2-0 victory in front of a big crowd on Friday.

The South Americans did not take long to strike with Cristian Zapata delivering the first goal in the eighth minute, the defender seizing on a corner kick from the left and volleying the ball into the back of the net.

James Rodriguez scored the second from a penalty in the 42nd minute after DeAndre Yedlin had been penalized for handball, a call the Americans hotly contested.

"The hand ball was not a hand ball," defender Geoff Cameron told reporters. "We’re disappointed, obviously. But I thought we were the better team."

Rodriguez, the Real Madrid playmaker, made no mistake with the spot kick and the two-goal cushion proved enough to give Colombia the early leg up in Group A, which also includes Costa Rica and Paraguay.

The United States, hosting the tournament for the first time and looking for some consistency after a difficult year, showed fight late in the second half but were unable to finish what chances they created.

Still, they tried to put a positive spin on their efforts and said they were happy with how they successfully controlled possession against the 2014 World Cup quarter-finalists.

"We were okay with the team performance. Against a quality team, if you don’t score a goal to get back in the game and equalize it's tough," said U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann.   Continued...

Colombia midfielder James Rodriguez (10) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal against the United States in the first half during the group play stage of the 2016 Copa America Centenario at Levi's Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports