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Brazil scrape through to Copa America showdown with Mexico/Argentina

Brazil have made it through to the 2007 Copa America Final after a dramatic semi-final with underdogs Uruguay. A bad tempered game saw Brazil twice take the lead only to be pegged back on both occasions, then miss a penalty, handing Uruguay the chance to book their final place. However, Uruguay choked, and it’s looking like Brazil-Argentina in the final unless Mexico can spring a surprise on the tournament favourites.

Maraicabo, Venezuela was the setting for the first semi-final and in the sweltering heat, Brazil got off to a flying start. A superb save from Fabian Carini wasn’t enough to prevent Maicon from toe-poking into the net from just inside the penalty area, following up Miniero’s shot to open the scoring for Brazil with just 13 minutes on the clock. That was clearly too much to take in the severe conditions so the lights failed for just under quarter of an hour.

After the restart, Uruguay upped the pressure on Brazil’s goal and Doni saved well from a point blank effort from Diego Forlan. Julio Baptista’s free kick went close for Brazil, however a short time later, Doni failed to clear Alvaro Recoba’s cross from the Brazilian goal and Forlan was there to level things up with his third goal of the tournament. A cracking goal from the in-form striker who has just signed on as Fernando Torres’ replacement at Atletico Madrid, and this kind of goal will help to ease Atletico’s fears after losing Torres.

Just before the break though, Brazil went back in front: Former Arsenal teammates Gilberto Silva and late addition to the  Brazil squad Baptista combined from a free-kick, and the latter gave the Samba boys the lead to take in at the half-time interval: A terrific ball from Gilberto to Baptista and as Uruguay’s defence pushed out hoping for an offside decision, Baptista volleyed home from close range.

It’s interesting how very often players make an impact on a squad despite not being named in the original panel of players for the tournament. Julio Baptista was very publicly distraught at not being named in the original squad, however the withdrawals of the likes of Kaka and Ronaldinho meant the Real Madrid player got his chance. Surely you would expect him to be last man in therefore one of the last to make an impression on the first team? Not so; the only game Baptista has not taken part in was the 2-0 defeat to Mexico and ‘the beast’ has started and scored in the last two games. It’s an interesting point to note that the newcomer to the squad so often gets game time ahead of those who were initially picked ahead of him in the original squad. The likes of Fred and Anderson must be kicking themselves on the bench. Perhaps it’s the excitement of being finally included that has a positive impact on the player’s training, perhaps it is just guilt on the managers part. Perhaps it’s just thefc100 thinking out loud….

There was more to come from Uruguay though, and they pulled level when Diego Forlan flicked on Cristian Rodriguez’ cross into the path of substitute Sebastian Abreu (on for Alvaro Recoba at half-time) and he scrambled the ball in at the far post. A lovely move from Uruguay on the left hand side saw Rodriguez played in behind the flat-footed Brazilian defence and Forlan’s headed attempt on goal fell perfectly for Abreu at the far post to steer home and spark wild Uruguay celebrations.

So, eventually to penalties. Three years ago Brazil had progressed at the expense of Uruguay on penaties at the same stage of the competition so Uruguay thought the worst when Diego Forlan missed from the spot with their first attempt, aiming straight down the middle and finding only Doni in the Brazilian goal. However when first Alfonso’s shot was saved, and then at 4-4 Fernando hit the post for Brazil, Uruguay could smell revenge and a place in the final. Pablo Garcia had the chance for glory but stepped up and repeated Fernando’s attempt, so when Gilberto scored for Brazil, Diego Lugano’s miss sent Uruguay packing in the same style as three years ago.

There was still time for a little fisticuffs as Brazil’s celebrations left Uruguay feeling slightly bitter. Understandably. Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez and his players left without commenting after the match as victorious manager Dunga stated to the press: To be a winning team, you have to know how to suffer. In the most difficult moment, you have to have posture, courage and fight until the end. Now why would Uruguay find that attitude hard to swallow. A regular poet that Dunga.

(unable to find commentary in English yet, but the action should speak for itself! Thanks to maxxxucio -no we’re not kidding- for posting the video on youtube)

 (Note: There will be a preview of the eagerly anticipated showdown between Mexico and Argentina later on thefc100. Mexico are 5/1. Just thought we’d mention it……)

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  1. Juan
    July 11, 2007 at 6:07 pm

    That last penalty was so sketchy, Brazil’s goalkeeper was like 3 yards ahead when it was taken.

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