Sunday, June 28, 2015

Derlis Gonzalez is Paraguay’s hero – Brazil out

The drama on Friday night was extended until the last possible moment. Argentina needed penalties to get by Colombia in a game which was heavily dominated by the Albiceleste. Arsenal goalkeeper David Ospina put on a show and gave his Colombian teammates the (through 90 minutes highly unlikely) chance to come out as winners on penalties. But it was not meant to be. 3 misses were one too many, and after Murillo could not convert the seventh penalty for Colombia, Carlos Tevez did and ended the quarterfinal.

A day later, Paraguay completed the semifinal. They shocked Brazil with a 5-4 win after penalties. In the first half, Brazil impressed with technically good football. That led to the opening goal by Robinho, who finished off an excellent low cross from Dani Alves (still wondering when this guy learned how to cross). Paraguay were by no means playing a bad game either. They might not have the individual quality that the Brazilians can put onto the pitch, but they made up for it by fighting for every inch. Due to Brazil’s vulnerability at the back, this led to quite a few chances, none of them really 100% though. Jefferson kept looking like a risk in goal as the tournament goes on, you might remember the weird goal they gave up to Peru in the first group game.

Since Paraguay already showed their comeback qualities in the 2-2 draw against Argentina, the second half still held a lot of excitement. They came right back out in their aggressive style and were ultimately rewarded with some huge chances for an equalizer. A freekick was saved on the near side, a Valdez header went over the crossbar and da Silva produced a great save on the line from Jefferson. Paraguay controlled the game in large parts now and kept Brazil defending in their own half, then profited from a ridiculous handball from Thiago Silva which resulted in a penalty. Derlis Gonzalez left no doubt and fired it into the bottom left corner and suddenly Brazil had their backs against the wall, needing to get back into an attacking mode that they lost at the end of the first 45 minutes. With penalties on the horizon (no extra time at the Copa América before the final), neither team managed any sort of breakthrough and never was the phrase “a game of two halves” more fitting.

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Gonzalez goal! Paraguay’s #10 ties the game up via penalty and rewards Paraguay for a fantastic second half.

The shooting competition from 11 meters that noone really likes, unless you are German, had to decide this quarterfinal. The unpleasant memories from 2011, when Brazil missed all four penalties against this same Paraguay at the same stage, still in the head, their demons came back to haunt them fast. Substitute Everton Ribeiro, who came on late just for the penalty shootout, missed the second one wide to the right. When Douglas Costa shot the fourth penalty over the crossbar it seemed all over, Roque Santa Cruz shortly gave them hope again doing the same. But the fifth penalty was the coolest of them all. Derlis Gonzalez stepped up again and he would have scored this one in his sleep. Paraguay turn it around and kick out Brazil! And most of all, after this second half, it was completely deserved.

Now they will get the chance to play against Argentina again. While their opponent are strong favorites yet again, Paraguay have shown throughout the tournament that you have to expect a good and competitive match out of them, and this is what will happen again in the semifinal. I am looking forward to it.


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