Copa America: Brazil follow Argentina as Paraguay win on penalties
Copa America continues to surprise as soon after Argentina’s exile, Brazil was knocked out of the tournament by Paraguay in the quarter-finals. Brazil dominated most of the game but were unable to penetrate Paraguay’s goalkeeper Justo Villar. Brazil were the defending champions and the favorites for this year’s competition. 90 minutes of football was not enough to separate both the team. The match was pushed into extra time which was ultimately marred by two red-cards. Lucas Leiva and Antolin Alcaraz traded blows near the touchline and were sent off reducing their respective sides to 10-men.
Paraguay were determined on the field but they had very little to offer in terms of goal-scoring intent. The credit is due to Justo Villar who stood upto his team’s expectations in the penalty shoot-out. Brazil were unable to score a single penalty whereas Paraguay forced two past Julio Caesar. Earlier, Argentina had suffered at the hands of penalty-shootout as well when they were defeated by Uruguay. Brazil were fielding a relatively young side but it was by no means a second string side, they had no less expectations than winning the cup.
It was once again justified that penalty shootouts are about nerves more than skill. Elano, Thiago Silva, Santos and Fred took the spot-kicks for Brazil. They were found wanting in confidence whereas Justo Villar’s resolve was deservingly rewarded. Paraguay’s had their fair share of anxieties as well. Their fans were visibly outraged when Barreto missed from the spot. For their good fortune, Estigarribia and Riveros brought the penalties to a quick halt by scoring consecutively.
The outstanding man on the field was surely Justo Villar as he was engulfed by his team-mates in the victory celebrations. He spoke highly of his team’s resilient attitude and cautioned them to stay focused for the rest of the tournament. He said, “It is difficult to analyse, Brazil were much better and we had to defend ourselves. We had almost no opportunities to score, but we fought a lot. Order and focus were the keys of the game.”
Paraguay will face the winner of the clash between Chile and Venezuela. Given the exit of Brazil and Argentina, the team would be hoping to go all the way by the merit of its defensive qualities. On the other hand, Uruguay seems to be a strong contender for the title as well with their prowess upfront. Both the teams have to surpass the semi-final barrier for a meeting in the final.