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Uruguay beats Brazil 4-2 on penalties after scoreless draw, advances to Copa America semifinals

Uruguay beats Brazil 4-2 on penalties after scoreless draw, advances to Copa America semifinals

Baku, July 7, AZERTAC

Marcelo Bielsa knew what the world’s reaction would be after Uruguay and Brazil grinded, scrapped and shoved their way through a Copa America quarterfinal match with 41 fouls, four shots on target and no goals in open play, according to AP.

Bielsa knows the beautiful game wasn’t so attractive Saturday night, but the famously inventive coach now running Uruguay’s bench only cared about the celebrations back home and in the Vegas stands when La Celeste picked up a landmark win.

Manuel Ugarte scored the decisive goal in the fifth round of the shootout and Uruguay advanced to the Copa America semifinals with a 4-2 penalty kick victory after the teams played to a scoreless draw.

Uruguay and Brazil played a bruising, choppy match with plenty of rough stuff, but little of the impressive soccer for which both South American powerhouses are known. Uruguay’s Nahitan Nández was sent off after a red card in the 74th minute for a dangerous tackle on Rodrygo, but Brazil still couldn’t break through its 10-man opponent in the ensuing 21 minutes.

Uruguay led 3-1 after three rounds of the shootout when goalkeeper Sergio Rochet stopped Éder Militão and Douglas Luiz hit the post. Alisson Becker saved José María Giménez’s shot in the fourth round to keep Brazil alive, but Ugarte banged home the clincher.

“If you ask me if I’m happy that we only created three goal-scoring opportunities, then no,” Bielsa said. “But our opponent only had two goal-scoring opportunities. We had to work hard to create our opportunities ... but that was satisfactory to us.”

After the third penalty shootout in four Copa America quarterfinal matches, Uruguay advanced to face Colombia in the semifinals on Wednesday night in Charlotte, North Carolina. Colombia routed Panama 5-0 earlier Saturday, extending its unbeaten streak to 27 consecutive matches.

We believe we’re in good shape to play against any opponent,” Bielsa said.

Defending champion Argentina faces Canada in the other semifinal Tuesday in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The final is July 14 in Miami Gardens.

Brazil played without Real Madrid star Vinícius Júnior, who watched from the stands under suspension after accumulating two yellow cards. The Seleção already are without Neymar, who hasn’t played since tearing a knee ligament last fall during Brazil’s loss to Uruguay in a World Cup qualifier.

That victory was Uruguay’s first over Brazil in 13 meetings since 2001, but Bielsa’s group has now beaten Brazil in back-to-back matches for the first time since 1992.

Endrick made his first career start in place of Vinícius Júnior, but the 17-year-old phenomenon headed to Real Madrid later this month couldn’t shake Brazil from its offensive funk. Except for a 4-1 win over overmatched Paraguay, Brazil scored one combined goal and earned just one victory in its other three Copa America matches — and the Seleção is headed home despite never trailing in the tournament.

“There were positives in every match,” coach Dorival Júnior said through an interpreter. “It’s only natural after a match like this one that something we’d consider positive is ruled out. I’m aware of that. We didn’t perform at a high technical level, but I don’t throw out any of the matches. There was dedication, fighting spirit. It was always a courageous team. I believe we had more positives than negatives. The fact we didn’t seize (the opportunity) despite outnumbering (Uruguay) will be analyzed.”

Uruguay advanced to the Copa America semifinals for the first time since winning the tournament in 2011, and it knocked Brazil out for the first time in four tries since 1995.

Both teams played cautiously and contentiously from the start. During a stoppage in the 17th minute, Ronald Araújo shoulder-checked Endrick to the ground from behind while the teenager complained about an earlier non-call. Raphinha responded by knocking down Araújo, but order was restored.

Araújo, the oft-injured Barcelona defender, left the game with an apparent injury to his right leg in the 31st minute. Bielsa later called it a muscle injury.

After 35 minutes with few scoring opportunities, the teams traded their best chances 35 seconds apart. Right after Darwin Núñez botched an unobstructed header deep in Brazil’s box, Raphinha was stopped at close range by Rochet.

Nández, a 28-year-old veteran who recently left Cagliari for the Saudi Pro League, was sent off after video review of his overzealous, straight-legged tackle on Rodrygo, whose right ankle buckled at contact.

Bielsa took off star Liverpool striker Núñez moments later, retreating into a defensive posture that got Uruguay to penalty kicks. Endrick created perhaps the strongest chance for Brazil in the 84th minute, but his shot was smothered by Rochet.

The teams played in air-conditioned comfort in the Las Vegas Raiders’ home stadium with 113-degree Fahrenheit (45 degrees Celsius) heat outside. The crowd included NBA stars Joel Embiid and Devin Booker, who sat in Vinícius Júnior’s box.

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