Brazil beats Paraguay in shootout in Copa América quarters

Paraguay's Gustavo Gomez has his penalty saved during a penalty shootout by Brazil's Alisson in their quarterfinal match at the Copa America Brazil 2019 on June 27, 2019. (REUTERS/Diego Vara)
Updated 28 June 2019

Brazil beats Paraguay in shootout in Copa América quarters

  • Brazil will face either Venezuela or Argentina, which play on Friday in Rio de Janeiro
  • Brazil had been eliminated by Paraguay the last two times the teams met in the Copa América quarterfinals, in 2011 and 2015

PORTO ALEGRE, Brazil: Facing early elimination in the Copa América at home, Brazil finally found a way to get past Paraguay in a penalty shootout.
After two consecutive eliminations against its southern neighbor, Brazil came out on top on penalties on Thursday to avoid an embarrassing elimination in the quarterfinals of the South American tournament.
Goalkeeper Alisson made a save and Gabriel Jesus scored the decisive penalty as Brazil defeated Paraguay 4-3 in the shootout to return to the semifinals for the first time since 2007.
Alisson dived to his left to stop the initial penalty by defender Gustavo Gómez, and Gabriel Jesus sealed the victory to keep Brazil on track for its first Copa América title since 2007.
Brazil will next face either Venezuela or Argentina, which play on Friday in Rio de Janeiro.
Brazil had lost to Paraguay the last two times the teams met in the Copa América quarterfinals, in 2011 and 2015, both times in penalty shootouts.
Derlis González also missed from the spot for Paraguay, while Roberto Firmino failed to score for Brazil. Both players sent their shots wide.
González, who also missed a penalty in Paraguay’s 1-1 draw against Argentina in the group stage, had scored the decisive goal in the 2015 shootout. He was one of the five players back from that team that eliminated Brazil.
Willian, Marquinhos and Philippe Coutinho converted their penalties for Brazil, while Miguel Almirón, Bruno Valdez and Rodrigo Rojas netted for Paraguay.
“My teammates did their part, they took on the responsibility and succeeded. That was crucial,” Alisson said. “This was an important step toward our goal of winning the South American title.”
Gabriel Jesus had missed a late penalty in Brazil’s 5-0 rout of Peru in its last group game, but calmly found the net with his shot from the spot as Paraguay goalkeeper Roberto “Gatito” Fernández went the other way, igniting the Brazilian crowd of more than 48,000 at the Arena Grêmio.
“I was confident, I knew that if I took the penalty the way I’m used to taking it, I would have more chances of scoring,” Gabriel Jesus said. “I was upset after the other match because I didn’t take the shot my own way. This time I waited for the goalkeeper to move and just sent the ball the other way.”
Gatito had been key in regulation as the visitors held on to a 0-0 draw despite having a defender sent off in the 58th minute. In the Copa America quarterfinals, extra time is not played and the match proceeded straight to penalties.
Paraguay played with 10 men after Fabián Balbuena was sent off for a foul that was initially called a penalty kick but was reversed after video review determined the foul happened outside the area.
“We have to be proud of the character shown by this team,” said Paraguay coach Eduardo Berizzo, an Argentine. “We could have been rewarded with a wonderful and heroic triumph in the penalty shootout, but that doesn’t take anything away from my players’ great performance.”
Brazil controlled possession but struggled to create scoring opportunities against Paraguay’s solid defensive system.
The visitors had one of the best chances of the first half when González’s close-range shot was saved by Alisson.
Brazil pressed nearly full-time after Balbuena was sent off, but couldn’t capitalize on its many opportunities. Gabriel Jesus, Coutinho, Everton and Firmino all missed great chances in front of the goal.
Fernández made a great reflex save on a close-range header by Alex Sandro near the end of the match, and in the 90th Fernández could only watch as a low shot by Willian struck the post.
Brazil coach Tite said the poor field conditions didn’t help Brazil’s attack.
“It’s absurd to have to play on a field where it’s difficult to exchange passes,” Tite said.
Despite reaching the semifinals in 2015 and finishing runner-up in 2011, Paraguay has won only one of its last 21 matches in the Copa América, taking advantage of penalty shootouts to advance.
Paraguay reached the last eight this year with only two points, finishing as one of the two best third-place teams from the three groups.
Paraguay and Brazil failed to make it out of the group stage in the 2016 Copa América.
An eight-time South American champion, Brazil has won the tournament all four previous times it hosted the event, the last time in 1989.
Brazil’s Neymar, dropped from the squad because of an ankle injury sustained just before the tournament, watched from the tribunes at the Arena Grêmio.


India beats New Zealand in 2nd T20, leads 5-match series 2-0

Updated 26 January 2020

India beats New Zealand in 2nd T20, leads 5-match series 2-0

  • New Zealand struggled to achieve any real momentum
  • The match raised further questions about the coaching and captaincy of the New Zealand team

AUCKLAND, New Zealand: K.L. Rahul made an unbeaten 57 Sunday to steer India to a seven-wicket win over New Zealand in the second Twenty20 international and to a 2-0 lead in the five-match series.
Rahul and Shreyas Iyer put on 86 for the third wicket as India cruised past New Zealand’s total of 132-5 with 2.3 overs to spare. Shivam Dube (13 not out) hit a six from the bowling of Tim Southeein in the 18th over to lift India to 135-3.
Iyer made 58 not out and Rahul 56 as India beat New Zealand by six wickets with an over to spare in the first match of the series.
New Zealand made 203-5 batting first in that match but on Sunday, on the same pitch, it struggled to achieve any real momentum. During the second match the pitch played much slower and India bowled expertly to restrict New Zealand’s total.
Martin Guptill made 33 in a 48-run opening partnership with Colin Munro and Tim Seifert made an unbeaten 33 at the end of the innings but New Zealand wasn’t able to reach a total that could stretch India’s deep batting lineup.
Rohit Sharma (8) and captain Virat Kohli (11) were out relatively cheaply but Rahul and Iyer (44) sped India toward a comprehensive victory.
Dube came to the crease shortly before the end and quickly brought the match to a conclusion.
“I think we backed up the first match with a very good performance today, especially with the ball,” Kohli said. “We demanded that the bowlers stood up and took control of what we wanted to do out there.
“I think our line and length and the way we wanted to bowl on that wicket, sticking to one side of the wicket and being shorter was a very good feature of us as a team and helped us restrict a very good New Zealand team.”
New Zealand’s total was inadequate, even on a slower pitch, and India almost toyed with the home side as it made its way to a comfortable win.
New Zealand named the same team that lost the first match of the series and batted after winning the toss, just as it batted when it was outplayed in the first match of the series.
The match raised further questions about the coaching and captaincy of the New Zealand team after its humiliating test series loss in Australia last month. New Zealand showed again Sunday it hasn’t the talent to compete with the best teams in the world.
“As a batting unit we probably needed another 15 or 20 to make that total more competitive,” said New Zealand captain Kane Williamson. “But credit to the way the India side bowled, they’re a class side in all departments and they put us under pressure throughout that middle period.”

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