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Jul 2, 2011

Gomez relieved after 'very hard' start

Colombia coach Hernan Dario Gomez admitted that his side had been far from convincing as they opened their Copa America campaign with a narrow 1-0 victory over ten-man Costa Rica in Juyjuy.

• Aguero salvages Argentina draw
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• Lomas: Players to watch

A goal from Adrian Ramos was enough to send Colombia to the top of Group A but the match wascertainly no walkover against a youthful Costa Rica side, who battled for more than an hour with ten men after Randall Brenes was sent off.

And Gomez, who also led Colombia at the 1995 and 1997 Copa Americas, said he was relieved that his side held on for the victory.

"Winning the first game in the Copa America is very hard," Gomez said. "I knew the Costa Rica coach (Ricardo La Volpe), and knew it would be a tough game. We did not have much spark. Costa Rica reduced the spaces and it cost us and, finally, I asked the team to hold the result because three points are three points and worth a lot.

"Costa Rica has a great coach, an old fox. It's a team with great order and they know how to make things complicated, but we were humble and we move forward.

"It would have been a wild mess if Colombia did not win. I told them if we did not pass the first round I would go, but this is very hard and this is a team in development. Today my legs were shaking. This tournament is a big commitment and a heavy responsibility, and that at times the team felt that."

Colombia's next group game is on Tuesday against hosts Argentina, who needed an equaliser from Sergio Aguero to salvage a draw in their opening match against Bolivia.

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