Paraguay shocked many as they squeezed past Brazil on penalties in the last quarter-final of Copa America 2015.
Canarinho took the lead in the opening 15 minutes. A flowing Brazilian move saw Dani Alves swing a low ball into the box that was pounced on by former AC Milan forward Robinho, who showed there’s still life in the old dog yet.
Paraguay were struggling to impose themselves on a game that Brazil were in complete control of for the opening 30 minutes.
In the final 10 minutes of the half Paraguay were beginning to gain marginal control of possession, but the half itself was stop-start ever since Brazil took the lead, making it fairly unspectacular viewing.
Los Guaraníes started the second half showing real intent, forcing a number of corners in the opening minutes. One of those corners lead to their closest effort of the game as Nelson Haedo Valdez came flying in on a curling ball, heading just over the top of Jefferson’s crossbar.
Another corner lead to another good chance, this team forcing Jefferson to make a save with his legs down to his left.
With 20 minutes to go Paraguay’s pressure told as they won a penalty for a handball by Thiago Silva, who was already on a yellow. Derlis González smashed home the penalty majestically to level things for Paraguay.
They continued to push in search of a winner, catching Brazil on the counter through González and Roque Santa Cruz, with the former firing at Jefferson who parried wide. The game trickled out without an further clear chances for either side, so for the second time in the Copa America we had a quarter-final heading to penalties.
Fernandinho stepped up first, blasting past Justo Villar, whose hand was unable to keep it out. 1-0.
Substitute Osvaldo Martínez was first for Paraguay, hammering beyond Jefferson. 1-1.
Everton Ribeiro stepped up next, but his rested legs appeared to be less awake than Martínez’s as he rolled wide of Villar’s goal. 1-1.
Víctor Cáceres was next for Paraguay and he dispatched confidently to give Los Guaraníes the advantage. 1-2.
Centre-back Miranda followed for Brazil and comfortably tucked into the right corner, sending the goalkeeper the wrong way. 2-2.
Raúl Bobadilla powered his penalty into the top corner. 2-3.
Douglas Costa followed in the footsteps of Ribeiro, getting nowhere near the goal as he blasted well over the bar. 2-3.
All that was needed was former Manchester City forward Roque Santa Cruz to tuck his penalty home to send Paraguay through. He fired over. 2-3.
Under immense pressure Liverpool star Philippe Coutinho managed to keep his composure. 3-3.
The upper hand was still with Paraguay though. It was up to Derlis González to score his second penalty of the game to send them into the semi-finals against Argentina and that was exactly what he did. 3-4 after 5 penalties each.
Brazil: Jefferson, Dani Alves, Thiago Silva, Miranda, Filipe Luís, Elias, Fernandinho, Willian (Douglas Costa 60), Robinho (Ribeiro 87), Coutinho, Firmino (Tardelli 69)
Paraguay: Villar, Valdez, Da Silva, Aguilar, Piris, Derlis, Cáceres, Aranda (Martínez 77), Benítez (Romero 84), Haedo Valdez (Bobadilla 74), Santa Cruz
Booked: Valdez, Aguilar, Alves, Coutinho, Martínez
Goalscorers: Robinho, González
Man of the Match: Derlis González. The Basel forward was a key factor in everything Paraguay created going forward. Not only did he score the penalty to level it up for his country, he also scored the penalty to send them into the semi-finals where they will face Argentina.