Salomón Rondón's 36th minute tap-in was all Venezuela needed to defeat Uruguay and rise to the top of Copa América Group C, at least for now. La Vinotinto are now through to the knockout round for only the third time since 1975.
Uruguay's fate is nearly decided. Unless they win and other results go their way, Copa América's all-time most successful team will be eliminated. The absence of Luis Suárez surely played a part, but this is an unexpected exit nonetheless.
Lincoln Financial Field hosted 23,002 fans, most of whom were wearing the light blue of Uruguay.
Uruguay made a few changes to the XI that lost to Mexico on Sunday, opting to shift from a 4-2-3-1 to a 4-1-3-2. On the left side of defense, Gastón Silva replaced Álvaro Pereira. Álvaro González started at left winger in place of Diego Rolán, and Gastón Ramírez came in for Nicolás Lodeiro at the No. 10 position. Ramírez's Middlesbrough teammate Cristhian Stuani joined Edinson Cavani up top. Stuani essentially comes in for defensive midfielder Matías Vecino, who was sent off in Uruguay's match against Mexico.
#CA2016 | Alineación de @Uruguay vs. @SeleVinotinto. Se jugará a las 20:30 h (UY) en el Lincoln Financial Field. pic.twitter.com/NW7wRMEB2L— Selección Uruguaya (@Uruguay) June 9, 2016
Rafael Dudamel only made one change, starting Adalberto Peñaranda in place of Luis Manuel Seijas.
Este será el once inicial de la selección nacional esta noche frente a Uruguay #VamosVinotinto #Copa100 pic.twitter.com/citcF2zHc4— La Vinotinto (@SeleVinotinto) June 9, 2016
The game got off to a frenetic, if messy, start, with Uruguay having the better of the early opportunities.
Edinson Cavani was on the end of La Celeste's best chances of the half, but he failed to convert all three of them. His worst miss came in the 15th minute, when he couldn't wrap his laces around a bouncing ball in the box.
World class strike by Cavani. #URUvVEN #CopaAmerica pic.twitter.com/0bNZgWRgUV— Ben Jata (@Ben_Jata) June 9, 2016
Alejandro Guerra and Salomón Rondón were Venezuela's best attacking players in the first 45 minutes, and it wasn't a great surprise that both were involved on the opening goal. With 10 minutes until the break, Guerra noticed that Fernando Muslera was off his line. The winger saw an opportunity to embarrass the Uruguayan 'keeper and he took it, even though 50 yards separated him and the goal. Muslera recovered just in time to tip it onto the bar, but Rondón was there to slam it home and give his side the lead.
With an early Copa América Centenario exit staring them in the face, Uruguay threw numbers forward for the duration of the second half. Both sides had clear chances to score the game's second goal, but the game finished at 1-0.
Venezuela's Adalberto Peñaranda had one of the best chances of the half, as he only had Muslera to beat after a 50-yard run. His weak effort was pushed away by Uruguay's goalkeeper, and the score remained the same.
Cavani had a few more opportunities toward the end of the game, but he scuffed them both. Much to his dismay, his low-corner attempt in the 90th minute went wide. He had another chance to tap a ball in after a stoppage-time scuffle in the box, but Dani Hernandez gathered the ball cleanly to snuff the attack.
With Fernando Muslera on the opposite end of the field after going up for a corner, Romulo Otero had the chance to double his side's lead. The midfielder's long attempt rolled just wide, and the final whistle blew moments later.
EDIT: A prior version of this post claimed that Uruguay had been eliminated, but that is untrue. It is true that I am dumb, though.