Concepcion (Chile): Brazil’s penalty shoot-out jinx struck again Saturday as Paraguay sent them crashing out of the Copa America in a stunning repeat of their 2011 upset of the five-time world champions. Striker Derlis Gonzalez was the hero for Paraguay, slotting a second-half penalty to level the match at 1-1 before then stepping up to rifle home the decisive spotkick to clinch a 4-3 win in the shoot-out.
It marked another bitter defeat for Brazil, who went out to Paraguay at the same stage of the competition four years ago, when they also lost on penalties. Brazil’s hopes of avenging that loss soon unraveled in the shoot-out, when terrible misses by Everton Ribeiro and Douglas Costa handed the initiative to the Paraguayans. Paraguay skipper Roque Santa Cruz gave his team nervous moments when he squandered the opportunity to clinch victory with his side’s fourth spot-kick, blazing high over the bar.
But Gonzalez, 21, who had buried an emphatic 72nd-minute penalty to level the game, made no mistake with his side’s fifth kick before being mobbed by teammates. “To see my teammates with tears in their eyes, you can’t put a price on that,” Gonzalez said. “Nobody trusted in us when we arrived here. But we’re a very united team and we have more to give in this tournament,” he added.
Paraguay will now play Argentina in the semi-finals on Tuesday, a rematch of their first round game which finished 2-2.
It was a disastrous end to a miserable tournament for Brazil, who had arrived in Chile desperate to atone for their humiliating exit at last year’s World Cup, when they were thrashed 7-1 by Germany in the semi-finals. Brazil had looked on course for a place in the last four after dominating the first half, and took the lead on 15 minutes through Robinho. A sweeping counter-attack ended with the ball transferred to Dani Alves on the right, who once again whipped in a perfect cross and Robinho was on hand to make a close-range finish.