|How to celebrate being let off the hook [AFP]|
The defending Copa America champions Brazil are through to the final of this year’s competitions but needed a penalty shoot-out to see off Urguay in a titanic and bad-tempered semifinal.
After the sides finished 2-2 in normal time, Pablo Garcia, needing to convert Uruguay’s sixth kick in the shootout to send them through, crashed his effort against the post.
Brazil had twice surrendered the lead during the match, were not going to look a gift horse int he mouth and took advantage winning 5-4.
Gilberto scored their next kick before Diego Lugano saw his effort saved by goalkeeper Doni, who appeared to move several metres before the kick was taken. Both teams had previously missed one kick each.
Brazil will now play Argentina or Mexico, who meet in Wednesday’s semifinal in Puerto Ordaz.
The game had an ugly ending though when a brawl broke out.
Evidently the sight of Brazil celebrating another shootout win three years after doing the same at the same stage of the competition was too much for some Uruguayns.
Maicon had given the favourites an early lead before a floodlight failure stopped the first half after 14 minutes.
Diego Forlan equalised after the re-start only for Julio Baptista to head Brazil back in front before halftime. Substitute Sebastian Abreu pulled Uruguay level again midway through the second half.
Oscar Tabarez, the Uruguay coach, and his players left pretty sharply after the game without speaking to the press but Dunga, his Brazilian counterpart was more than happy to talk about the importance of suffering.
“To be a winning team, you have to know how to suffer,” Dunga, a former world cup winning captain, said.
“In the most difficult moment, you have to have posture, courage and fight until the end.”
The game was slow to warm up, no doubt because of the high humidity and sapping heat but Brazil went ahead in the 13th minute after producing the first flowing move of the game.
A break down the right ended with Fabian Carini superbly saving Mineiro’s shot only for Maicon to snap up the rebound.
Uruguay came back into the game after a 14-minute blackout with Alvaro Recoba’s inswinging free kicks and corners asking some serious questions of the Brazilian defence.
Doni was forced to punch away three Recoba corners from under his crossbar and made a superb save to turn away Forlan’s shot on the turn.
In the fourth minute of time added on for the floodlight failure, Doni failed to clear a Recoba cross and the ball fell to Forlan, who scored with a low shot from the edge of the penalty area.
Brazil regained the lead five minutes later when Julio Baptista headed in following a free kick on the right.
Uruguay pulled level again in the 70th minute through Abreu, who replaced Recoba at halftime.
Jorge Fucile slipped the ball to Cristian Rodriguez on the left, his cross from the byline was headed on by Forlan to Abreu, who scrambled the ball in at the far post.