Sunday, 15 April 2012

Copa America - An Overview Part Two

Quarter finals
After a mixed group stage, it’s fair to say the quarter finals of the 2011 Copa America really exceeded peoples estimations. Four matches and four shock results. South American powerhouses Brazil and Argentina were both defeated via a penalty shoot out, whilst Chile and Colombia who both impressed in the group stage were defeated by Peru and Venezuela respectively.
The first quarter final saw Colombia, who topped Group A, meet Peru, a third placed finisher in group C. The Estadio Mario Alberto Kempes stadium, named after the former Argentina striker who helped Argentina to the World Cup in 1978, saw a poor match, with neither side threatening to break through in normal time. However in extra time strikes from Carlos Loboton and Juan Manuel Vargas of Fiorentina saw Peru, twice Copa America Champions overcome Colombia.
In the best looking match of the tournament, the host nation Argentina came up against Uruguay, the South American side who went the furthest at the 2010 World Cup. Despite a poor start to their Copa America, many predicted Argentina to still progress; however Diego Perez gave Uruguay a deserved lead after just five minutes. It wasn’t long before parity was restored through Real Madrid’s Gonzalo Higuain; but the expected Argentina winner never arrived and the match went to a penalty shoot-out. Uruguay were faultless with their penalties, scoring five from five, ensuring that Carlos Tevez’s missed penaltywas to prove ever so costly as the host nation went out earlier then most had expected.
Argentina’s exit meant that Brazil were installed as tournament favourites before they met Paraguay in their quarter final. The two sides had already met in the group stage, with Fred rescuing a point for the Brazilians in a lively affair. This encounter however was tepid and for the second match in a row a penalty shoot out was required to separate the sides. In incredible fashion the Brazilians amazingly missed all four of their spot-kicks, meaning Paraguay’s two from four was more than enough to qualify for the semi-finals.
Chile probably couldn’t believe their luck, having seen two of three favourites knocked out before their quarter final with the lowest ranked side in the tournament left Venezuela; however Chile fell the way of Argentina, Brazil and Colombia in a fourth straight surprise result. Oswaldo Vizcarrondo gave Venezuela a deserved lead, but when Humberto Suazo levelled for Chile, it looked as they had saved themselves, only for Gabriel Cichero to score a late winner for Venezuela.
The first semi-final saw Peru take on Uruguay. After a goalless first half,Liverpool’s Luis Suarez scored twice in little under five minutes to comfortably book a place in the final for his country. Diego Forlan’s long range effort was parried by Raul Fernandez in the Peru goal and Suarez was the quickest to react and he earned himself an easy tap-in to open the scoring. For his and Uruguay’s second Suarez played on the line of the Peru defence, and after receiving a perfect through ball he rounded Fernandez before tapping into an open net.
The second semi was a closer affair as Paraguay edged out Venezuela on penalty kicks to progress to the final. Incredibly with a penalty shoot-out win Paraguay made the final despite not winning a game the whole tournament (three draws in the group stage and two penalty shoot out victories). With Paraguay converting all five spot-kicks, Franklin Lucena’s miss proved costly. Paraguay’s shoot out win was their third in the last two tournaments, having overcame Japan at the 2010 World Cup.
Peru proved too good for Venezuela in the 3rd/4th place play off, easily winning 4-1 with a hat-trick from Hamburg’s Pablo Guerrero. In the final itself, Uruguay and in particular Luis Suarez had too much for Paraguay, easing to a 3-0 victory. Uruguay came out of the traps in ultra quick fashion and Suarez opened the scoring from a tight angle after just 11 minutes. A second wasn’t long in coming, as Diego Forlan, who had a relatively quiet tournament by his high standards, smashed home a brilliant second. In the second half Paraguay had a legitimate call for a penalty ignored and hit the bar; however Uruguay on the counter attack always threatened  a third and it duly arrived as the deadly duo of Suarez and Forlan combined, to set up the latter to place the ball home
Team of the tournament
Villar (Paraguay)
Da Silva (Paraguay) Coates (Uruguay) Perea (Colombia) A.Pereira (Uruguay)
Vargas (Peru) Vidal (Chile) Arango (Venezuela)
Aguero (Argentina)
Suarez (Uruguay) Guerrero (Peru)

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