LA PLATA, Argentina, (Reuters) – Paraguay, who did not have a single shot on target in 120 minutes of a goalless Copa America quarter-final, sent holders Brazil crashing out 2-0 on penalties yesterday.
Brazil dominated the 120 minutes of play, creating a string of chances which Paraguay repelled with a mix of stubborn defending, some luck and a man-of-the-match performance from goalkeeper and captain Justo Villar.
The teams were down to 10 men each from the 13th minute of extra time after a scramble for the ball by several players on one side of the pitch developed into a free-for-all with Paraguay defender Antolin Alcaraz and Brazil midfielder Lucas Leiva sent off.
The Brazilians, brilliant at times in open play, were dismal in the shootout with Elano, Andres Santos and Fred all firing their penalties wide while Villar saved from Thiago Silva.
Edgar Barreto missed Paraguay’s first penalty but Marcelo Estigarribia and Cristian Riveros converted theirs.
“It was a match dominated almost entirely by Brazil. We had to take refuge a lot of the time at the back and, well, the penalties are a lottery which we took well and they failed with theirs,” Villar said.
Brazil had the best moves of the first half. In the seventh minute, Robinho ran from the right across to the left and fed Pato whose pass back into the middle was only half-cleared with Neymar volleying the ball just over the bar.
They should have scored close to the half hour when Paulo Henrique Ganso passed forward to Robinho who threaded a good ball out right to the unmarked Neymar whose low shot went just outside the far post.