Thursday, 12 July 2007

Copa America Semi-Finals

Brazil and Argentina were both victorious in their semi-final matches to setup the final that everyone wanted and expected.

Brazil struggled, only defeating Uruguay on penalties after a 2-2 draw in normal time. Despite their impressive quarter final showing, Brazil reverted back to their tepid performances from the group stage and were lucky not to be beaten as Uruguay poured forward in the latter stages.

Maicon gave Brazil the lead after 12 minutes before Diego Forlan levelled ten minutes before half time. Julio Baptista restored Brazil's lead going into half time, but Uruguay once again responded; a headed goal from Sebastian Abreu giving them the equaliser twenty minutes from time.

In the penalties, Pablo Garcia has a chance to win the game for Uruguay, but struck the woodwork. A miss from captain Diego Lugano in the next round of penalties, coupled with Gilberto coverting his for Brazil, consigned the Uruguayans to defeat and allowed Brazil to progress to the final.

They will face Argentina, who overcame a resilient Mexico side 3-0 in the second semi-final. Mexico were able to keep the favourites at bay for much of the first half, closing down key players such as Juan Riquelme and Lionel Messi in numbers, and not allowing the Argentines time on the ball in any area of the pitch.

The game turned just before half time as a Riquelme free-kick picked out Gabriel Heinze to volley home past the horribly misplaced Mexico goalkeeper Oswaldo Sanchez. Mexico started the second half with intent, Nery Castillo hitting the crossbar with a right footed effort early in the half.

Mexico were unable to create any more clear cut chances and were caught on the counter attack for Argentina's second goal. Carlos Tevez played in Lionel Messi on the right, who took just one touch to set himself, before planting a delightful chip over Sanchez. It was a moment of pure genius, the entire stadium appearing to applaud his effort.

Argentina were in control for that moment onwards and got their third twenty five minutes from time thanks to a cheekily taken penalty from Juan Riquelme after Carlos Tevez was brought down by Rafael Marquez in the area. Argentina threatened a fourth late on, but contented themselves with a 3-0 victory to face their old rivals in the final.

The final is this coming Sunday, with the third place play off between Mexico and Uruguay a day earlier on Saturday.

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