Colombia’s Martinez and Zapata stun Messi’s Argentina at Copa

Colombia's Yerry Mina, top, heads the ball during a Copa America match against Argentina on Saturday. (AP)
Updated 17 June 2019

Colombia’s Martinez and Zapata stun Messi’s Argentina at Copa

  • Both Argentina and Colombia are trying to end title droughts, with the Argentines winless since the 1993 Copa America
  • Argentina lost the finals of the World Cup in 2014 and the Copa America in 2015 and 2016

SALVADOR, Brazil: James Rodriguez got the best of Lionel Messi in the Copa America, leading Colombia to a 2-0 win over Argentina in their opening game in the South American tournament on Saturday.

Rodriguez set up Roger Martinez’s opening goal in the second half with a high, diagonal pass across the field, and substitute Duván Zapata scored late to seal the victory that allowed Colombia to end a 12-year winless streak against the Argentines.

Messi had missed a chance to put Argentina in front, sending a close-range header off target as his team opened the tournament with a loss for the first time since 1979.

“Our best player was the entire team,” Colombia coach Carlos Queiroz said. “The next match will certainly be more difficult, this is only the beginning.”

Both Argentina and Colombia are trying to end title droughts, with the Argentines winless since the 1993 Copa America and the Colombians without a trophy since the 2001 edition.

Argentina lost the finals of the World Cup in 2014 and the Copa America in 2015 and 2016, where it lost both of the latter in penalty shootouts against Chile.

Colombia’s last win over Argentina was in South American qualifying for the World Cup in 2007.

“It had been a long time (without beating Argentina),” Zapata said. “Everyone in Colombia is very happy, but there is still a long way to go in the Copa, we still have important matches ahead.”

Messi and Rodriguez had a mostly quiet match in Salvador, although Rodriguez provided the assist for Martinez’s 71st-minute opener.

The playmaker gained possession inside Colombia’s own half before picking out Martinez with a long pass. The forward brought the ball down on the left flank before cutting into the penalty area and shooting into the far corner of the net.

“We are disappointed because they scored a great goal when we were playing better,” Messi said. “It will take some time to accept this defeat, but we have to take the positives from today and move on to try to win the next match. We still have plenty of chances.”

Argentina’s first loss in a Copa America game in regulation time since 2007 was confirmed in the 86th minute.

Five minutes after entering the match, Zapata converted from Jefferson Lerma’s cross.

Argentina striker Sergio Aguero and Colombia veteran Radamel Falcao also could not do much to help their teams break through their opponents’ defense in a tense opening match in Group B.

“We improved in the second half and created chances,” said Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni, who complained of the bad field conditions at the Arena Fonte Nova. 

“We still have two matches left and if we win them we will certainly advance.”

Earlier Saturday, Peru were held by 10-man Venezuela to a 0-0 draw in Group A, a result that left both teams two points behind host Brazil, which opened with a 3-0 win over Bolivia on Friday in Sao Paulo. Argentina will next play against Paraguay in Belo Horizonte, while Colombia will face Qatar in Sao Paulo.

Paraguay and Qatar meet in the other Group B match on Sunday in Rio de Janeiro. 


Kaymer arrives in Oman to tackle ‘toughest opening hole on tour’

Updated 15 min 39 sec ago

Kaymer arrives in Oman to tackle ‘toughest opening hole on tour’

  • A top class field, featuring two-time Major winner Martin Kaymer, will battle it out for the $1.75m prize
  • Measuring 454 yards, the first hole averaged 4.3 strokes across all four rounds during the 2019 event

MUSCAT, Oman: Al Mouj Golf, regarded by many as having one of the toughest opening holes on the European Tour circuit, is putting the finishing touches to the course in preparation for the 2020 Oman Open, held from 27 February — 1 March 2020.
The Oman Open returns to Al Mouj Muscat for the third time and will see a strong field teeing it up in Oman’s lifestyle and leisure destination. A world class field will be battling it out for the USD$1.75 million prize, with two-time Major winner Martin Kaymer, two-time European Tour winner Eddie Pepperell, Ryder Cup winning captain Thomas Bjorn and rising stars Robert McIntire and Adri Arnaus among some of the star names set to tee it up in Oman. A tough start is guaranteed at Al Mouj Golf, with the daunting opening hole, Par 4, often considered one of the most demanding opening holes on the circuit. Measuring 454 yards, the first hole averaged 4.3 strokes across all four rounds during the 2019 event.
Set along a two kilometer stretch of the Indian Ocean and with the Hajjar mountains providing an impressive backdrop, the Greg Norman designed links style course is consistently rated as one of the best in the Middle East, with Norman himself rating it as one of his finest creations. Despite the stunning surroundings, Al Mouj Golf is certainly capable of baring its teeth. As Oman’s first links style course, it provides one of the most challenging tests for golfers in the region, and when the wind gets up can be regarded as the toughest course of the European Tour’s ‘Desert Swing’.
Winners of the 2019 IAGTO Sustainability Award for Community value, Al Mouj Golf prides itself on its biodiversity and sustainable practices and with wildflowers and natural dunes accenting the lush green grass, it certainly inspires a unique golfing experience in the Middle East. Greg Norman commented “The huge bonus for me was that I was able to create a vast natural habitat which quickly became a haven for birdlife and various flora and fauna.”
Nasser bin Masoud Al Sheibani, CEO of Al Mouj Muscat, said “We are delighted to be welcoming the European Tour back to Oman and Al Mouj Golf for the third Oman Open. The feedback from players has been overwhelmingly positive since the initial event in 2018, which is testament to the quality of the layout and the surrounding environment. Al Mouj Muscat is a fantastic leisure and lifestyle destination for tourists, and we look forward to showcasing this once again”.
European Tour players have enjoyed their previous visits to the Oman Open, with the course receiving glowing reviews, further strengthening its position as one of the best courses in the region. Eddie Pepperell said ‘‘Al Mouj Golf is a must play if you’re ever in Oman. I’d say it’s the best course I’ve played in the Middle East.”, while Chris Wood commented “It’s a bit of a mix between a links and a desert course. The design is really good and there are so many players saying the same things. It’s in perfect condition and the practice facilities are awesome too.”
Tom Phillips, Head of Middle East, European Tour said: “It’s wonderful to witness how much this tournament has grown over the years; starting out as a European Challenge Tour event in 2013 before being deservedly promoted to the Challenge Tour Grand Final in 2015 and then becoming a full European Tour event in 2018.
“We’re extremely proud to visit the stunning Al Mouj Golf for the third Oman Open and delighted that the success of the tournament has contributed to the foundation of the Oman Golf Association, which marks another milestone for the development of golf in the Sultanate.”
Al Mouj Muscat offers an abundance of activities to enjoy in addition to the golf, with scuba diving and snorkelling trips, dolphin watching trips, water sports and fishing trips all available, as well as a range of restaurants and shops you will find at The Walk.
For more information on Al Mouj Muscat, please visit: www.almouj.com