Thursday, July 29, 2010

29 July 2001 - Enough Clean Sheets To Fill A Linen Closet

On 29 July 2001, hosts Colombia won their first Copa América title, beating invitees Mexico 1-0 in a Final that saw the visitors finish with nine men and no manager on the touchline.

The competition almost didn't happen, as drug-fueled political violence in the country forced CONMEBOL to cancel it. But promises of increased security by the organizers allowed it to go forward, albeit without CONMEBOL member Argentina and invitee Canada, both of whom withdrew amid concerns over the safety of their players.

Both Colombia and Mexico provided stout defenses throughout the tournament, with Mexico conceding only two goals, while Colombia had not allowed a single one. The Final proved to be much of the same, as the two teams battled through a scoreless first half notable mostly for the touchline ban issued against Mexican manager Javier Aguirre for his repeated excursions outside the bounds of the technical area. Colombia suffered a loss as well, losing the tournament's leading scorer, Victor Aristizabal to injury in the 25th minute.

Colombia eventually got the edge in the second half with a 65th-minute header from defender and captain Iván Córdoba - his only goal of the tournament. The frustrated Mexicans began lashing out, earning two late red cards for Juan Rodriguez and Gerardo Torres, as Colombia earned their sixth consecutive clean sheet of the competition and raised the cup.

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