U.S. hammer Costa Rica, Colombia advance at Copa America

Wed Jun 8, 2016 1:26am EDT
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(Reuters) - Colombia became the first side to book a spot in the Copa America Centenario quarter-finals on Tuesday after beating Paraguay in Pasadena, while the United States kept their hopes of advancing alive by thrashing Costa Rica 4-0.

Colombia's 2-1 win put them top of Group A on six points, with the United States on three and the other two teams on one point each.

After losing their opener 2-0 to Colombia, the United States were in clinical form against the Costa Ricans in Chicago and scored three times in the first half through Clint Dempsey, Jermaine Jones and Bobby Wood.

Substitute Graham Zusi added a fourth in the 86th minute to cap the win and improve the hosts' goal difference.

"It was important for us to get off to an early start," said Dempsey. "Once the second went in and the third we got into a bit of a rhythm."

Dempsey got the first, his 50th international goal, from the penalty spot after Cristian Gamboa was adjudged to have pushed Wood in the box with six minutes gone.

Dempsey was involved in the Americans' second after 36 minutes when his run at the Costa Rica defense saw the ball fall to Jones, who struck a low shot from the edge of the box past the outstretched hand of goalkeeper Patrick Pemberton.

The third goal came five minutes later and once again it was Dempsey who set it up. Wood won the ball in midfield and played a one-two with Dempsey before turning to strike home a low drive from 15 yards out.

Costa Rica, who reached the World Cup quarter-finals in 2014, improved in the second half with captain Bryan Ruiz playing a more influential role, but they were ineffective in the last third of the field.   Continued...

Jun 7, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA;  United States midfielder Clint Dempsey (8) shoots the ball against Costa Rica in the second half during the group play stage of the 2016 Copa America Centenario at Soldier Field. The United States defeated Costa Rica 4-0.  Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports