BELOHORIZONTE, Brazil (Reuters) – Uruguay crushed Ecuador 4-0 in their Copa America opener on Sunday with help from an early sending off that deflated their opponents and assured the 15-times champions the simplest of starts to their campaign.
Uruguay were already leading 1-0 from a sixth minute Nicolas Lodeiro goal when Jose Quintero was shown a VAR-assisted red card for throwing an arm in an aerial challenge.
The 23rd minute sending off put Uruguay firmly in the driving seat and Edinson Cavani with an acrobatic volley and Luis Suarez with a poacher’s goal made it 3-0 by half-time.
The Uruguayans took their foot off the pedal in an uneventful second half but an own goal from Arturo Mina 12 minutes from time, confirmed by VAR, sealed a miserable night for Ecuador.
The result puts Uruguay top of Group C, with Japan to play Chile in the other group game tomorrow.
(Reporting by Andrew Downie; Editing by Ian Ransom)