By CALEB SONNELAND
In terms of scorelines, Group B at the Copa America didn't bring much excitement to the soccer world with two 0-0 draws.
When Brazil clashed with Venezuela, Neymar and Robinho tested Renny Vega early, but the Venezuelan keeper held firm and kept the Brazilians at bay. Pato came the closest in the first half when he struck the upright from 12 yards out, yet with Vega rooted to the spot, the scoreline stayed level.
The score remained knotted as time expired on an eventful but disappointing match from a Brazilian standpoint. However, credit the Venezuelan back line who were constantly throwing themselves in front of shots at every opportunity to deny the heavy favorites of the match all three points.
Brazil head coach Mano Menezes fielded a strong lineup that included Neymar, Alexandre Pato, Robinho and Dani Alves (among others), but there was no way past a strong and organized Venezuelan defense.
In Group B's other fixture of the day, Paraguay slugged out another 0-0 draw with Ecuador to see all four sides in the group on level pegging going into the second round of group play.
The next day of group play is Saturday when Brazil takes on Paraguay (3pm ET), and Ecuador clashes with Venezuela (5:30pm ET).
Here are some other stories to keep your 4th of July rolling:
BRAZIL THUMP NORWAY IN GROUP D
A Marta-inspired performance saw the Brazil top its group in the Women's World Cup after it beat up on Norway 3-0 on Sunday.
Marta was sprang free in the 22nd minute down the right sideline, and after shrugging off Nora Holstad Berge, she used some fancy footwork to get past Maren Mjelde and put the ball home at the near post to get her name on the score sheet.
The Brazilian striker was again at the heart of attack shortly after halftime in the 46th minute when she fed Rosana the ball for the defender to slot home to double the advantage.
And Marta completed her brace only two minutes after having played provider when some awful Norwegian defending saw the ball land at her feet 12 yards from goal. Marta took a touch or two before powering home her second of the night to complete the rout.
AUSSIE WOMEN SEE OFF EQUATORIAL GUINEA
Though the match was an exciting 3-2 win for the Australian women, the talking point of the match came early in the game when EQG defender Bruna blatantly handled the ball inside the area, yet no penalty was given.
Bruna, presumably having believed that a free kick had been given, collected the ball in both hands for several seconds, before realizing that no free kick was awarded. Bruna then dropped the ball for her keeper Miriam to collect and continue play, as the bizarre incident was un-spotted by the referee.
EQG midfielder Anonman netted a brace to give the Aussie women a scare after she dispossessed defender Servet Uzunlar after some lazy defending in the 21st minute to round 'keeper Lydia Williams and slot home. In the closing minutes of the game, she produced an almost identical goal after robbing Uzunlar once more and slipping a shot past Williams to bring the score to 3-2.
But it wasn't to be as Australia had done enough earlier in the game through goals from midfielder Emily Van Egmond and striker Lisa De Vanna to give itself enough of a cushion to withstand the late EQG fightback.
The Socceroos had gotten on the score sheet just minutes prior to the bizarre handball incident in the eighth minute when striker Leena Khamis followed up on a spilt save to smash home and put her side 1-0 to the good.
Australia will take on Norway while Brazil lines up against Equatorial Guinea this Wednesday (both at 12pm ET) in the final bout of play in Group D.
URUGUAY ADVANCE TO U-17 SEMIFINALS
Uruguay marched into the semifinals of the U-17 World Cup when it beat Uzbekistan 2-0 yesterday, ending its fairytale story.
The South American nation got in front when Santiago Charamoni took down a long pass on the 18-yard box on his chest before slotting home with a left-footed shot in the 29th minute for his first goal of the tournament.
Rodrigo Aguirre finished the job in the 64th when a lovely Uruguayan passing move found the striker on the edge of the area. Aguirre jinked his way around an Uzbekistani defender before smashing his own left-footed shot home at the near post to seal the win.
BRAZIL U-17's SURVIVE LATE SCARE
While the Uruguayans booked their place in the next round, Brazil was fighting off a Japanese comeback in the other quarterfinal of the day.
Initially up 3-0, Brazil looked set for an easy win and passage into the next round of play. But the Japanese had other ideas and netted twice to ensure a nerve-wracking finale to the match.
Brazilian striker Leo opened up scoring in the 16th minute when he headed home a corner to put Brazil in the lead.
It took over 30 minutes for the second goal to come, but Ademilson made it worth the wait when he took a beautiful touch to spring himself inside the area and set up a classy far-post finish.
It looked done and dusted in the 60th minute when Adryan torched a Japanese defender and raced to the endline to blast a shot into the roof of the net from a narrow angle and establish a 3-0 lead for the Brazilians.
However, it wasn't set in stone as Japan roared into life in the 77th minute when Shoya Nakajima slotted home a good cross to put his side back into some form of contention.
In the 88th minute, Fumiya Hayakawa got a head to the ball after some confusion from Brazil led to the Japanese defender unmarked at the far post to put away the second goal for his team and make it 3-2 on the night.
But there would be no equalizer as the Brazilian defense held fast to tidy up the result and send the Japanese packing. Up next for Brazil is a clash with Uruguay on Thursday.
Did Brazil disappoint you in its first match of the Copa America? Is Marta the best female player in the world? Who do you see taking the U-17 World Cup?