Argentina beats Colombia 5-4 on penalties to reach semis
Carlos Tevez converted the winning penalty as Argentina defeated Colombia 5-4 in a shootout following a 0-0 draw on Friday, progressing to the semifinals of the Copa America.
After a scoreless draw over 90 minutes, the game moved immediately to penalties after regulation time with no extra time. Extra time can be played only in the July 4 final.
In a nervous climax to the shootout, Argentina twice spurned chances to win it, as Lucas Biglia shot wide and Marcos Rojo hit the crossbar before Tevez cashed in.
"Incredible," said Argentina star Lionel Messi. "It was the best match we played in the Copa America."
Argentina dominated play, particularly in the first half, with Colombia content to defend and take its chances with penalties.
Argentina had 75 percent of the first-half possession, and only goalkeeper David Ospina kept Colombia in the match as Argentina struggled to finish off its attack.
Arsenal\’s Ospina came up with two of the best saves of the tournament in the 26th minute. He sprawled and used his feet to stop Sergio Aguero on a point-blank shot. The ball bounced to Lionel Messi, who headed the ball toward an open net but Ospina scrambled to his right to knock the shot away.
"We were up against a great team," Ospina said. "You have to acknowledge this. We tried to shut them down tactically."
He called the penalties a "lottery" and said "unfortunately, today we had the losing ticket."
Argentina has struggled to score throughout the tournament with only four goals in its three group games. Colombia scored only one goal in three group games.
Colombia slowed Argentina\’s attack in the second half and took away space. Argentina goalkeeper Sergio Romero made his first save of the match in the 67th.
Argentina pressed in the final minutes and had three chances before penalties.
Ever Banega hit the crossbar in the 78th, and two minutes later Ospina tipped Nicolas Otamendi\’s shot off the post with the ball cleared off the line by a Colombia player.
In the 88th, Tevez raced into the area and collided with Ospina. The ball was rolling into an open net until Jeison Murillo cleared the ball off the line.
In the shootout, Colombia shot first and both teams converted their first three kicks. Colombia substitute Luis Muriel was the first to miss when he shot high, and Argentina substitute Ezequiel Lavezzi converted off a post to give his team the advantage.
Needing to score to keep his team alive, another Colombia substitute Edwin Cardona found the net to put pressure on Biglia, whose miss made it 4-4.
Colombia\’s Juan Zuniga had his shot blocked by Romero, handing Rojo another opportunity to win it, but he too missed his chance. Colombia center back Murillo fired his spot kick well over the bar, and Tevez finally took the opportunity to seal victory.
Argentina faces the winner of Saturday\’s last quarterfinal between Brazil and Paraguay. The winners play Tuesday in one semifinal. The other semifinal is Monday with host Chile against Peru.
Argentina, which lost last year\’s World Cup final 1-0 to Germany, is trying to win it first major title since in 22 years.