Soler leads Argentina Granate to rout in Copa Latina first round

A week after defending Copa Latina champion Blue Star Honduras won its 2013 opener in a rout, last year’s runner-up also played target practice on the opposition.

Chael Soler scored two first half goals as Argentina Granate thrashed Estudiantes de Guaya, 8-2, in a first-round tournament match Saturday afternoon at Ted Hendricks Stadium.

“I’m very happy with our group of players,” Argentina coach Julio Sosa said. “It is tremendous joy to get this first result in such a convincing way.”

Argentina wasted little time in testing Estudiantes’ defense and over-worked goalkeeper Juan Ruiz. The scoring blitz began with Esteban Jorge’s goal five minutes into the match. Leo Talamo’s shot bounced off the crossbar to an unmarked Jorge, who blasted a shot past Ruiz from 15 yards.

Argentina struck again a minute later on Soler’s successful header inside the 6-yard box.

Estudiantes reduced the deficit on Rahmare Sadig’s goal in the 14th minute. Sadig avoided Argentina’s offside trap, retrieved Andres Sanchez’s pass, darted unopposed toward the Argentina goal area and converted a shot past goalkeeper Gustavo Alvarez

But any plans of an Estudiantes’ comeback ended with another quick Argentina scoring blitz.

Soler’s successful header off Markos Nizarala’s corner kick gave Argentina a 3-1 lead in the 22nd minute. Five minutes later, Cristian Caporaletti beat Ruiz with a blast from 12 yards for a 4-1 advantage. Talamo successfully tested the nets with his converted strike in the 32nd minute.

“We have made some changes from last year’s team, some players moved on to other teams,” Sosa said. “We trained and prepared hard and it showed (Saturday), especially in the first half.”

Sosa substituted freely in the second half, yet the reserves nearly matched the first-half scoring output.

Martin Gonzalez, who entered in the 70th minute, scored in the 77th and 80th minutes, for a 7-2 Argentina lead. Markus Sheichen scored Argentina’s final goal with four minutes remaining in regulation.

“Definitely, there is huge motivation to do better after what we accomplished last year – the first Argentine team to reach the final,” Sosa said. “We hope to realize our dream this year but we understand the difficult work we need to undertake to make it possible.”

In other first-round games Saturday:

Seleccion Colombia Miami 3, Shenandoah USA 0: Colombia advanced to the second round with goals from Esteban Zapata (11th minute), Jean-Pierre Jimenez (76th) and Carlos Salazar (79th).

Alianca Brasil 3, Unity Jamaica 2: Samuca Rodrigues scored in the fourth and sixth minutes. After Romaro Francis’ goal in the 23rd minute cut the deficit to 2-1, Brasil’s Edmar Sival Santos clinched the win with his goal in the 89th minute.

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