Argentina Narrowly Advance Against Colombia
Argentina have edged their way into the Copa America semi-finals via a penalty shootout after their match against Colombia ended scoreless.
Carlos Tevez scored the decisive penalty with Argentina’s seventh spot-kick after Lucas Biglia and Marcos Rojo both missed opportunities to claim victory on Friday.
It was no less than Argentina deserved after they dominated throughout the 90 minutes, with only a massive display from Colombia goalkeeper David Ospina ensuring the quarter-final in Vina del Mar needed a shootout.
The Arsenal gloveman’s biggest moment was an amazing double save in the 26th minute when he denied Sergio Aguero with his foot before scrambling to palm Lionel Messi’s follow-up header around the post, with both shots coming from inside the six-yard box.
Colombia coach Jose Pekerman made four changes to the team that drew 0-0 with Peru in their final group encounter, with his decision to drop misfiring striker Radamel Falcao the standout.
Jackson Martinez was promoted to lead the line, while Victor Ibarbo, Alexander Mejia and Camilo Zuniga were also included as Pekerman switched from a 4-2-2-2 to a 4-1-3-2 formation.
That decision did not work, however, and Pekerman made a change midway through the first half with forward Teofilo Gutierrez sacrificed in favour of midfielder Edwin Cardona as Argentina ran riot, although it made little difference as Colombia finished the first half without a shot on goal.
As the second half wore on, Colombia began to gain a foothold in the contest but struggled to test Argentina goalkeeper Sergio Romero, while Ospina kept a clean sheet at the other end.
Romero made just one save throughout the 90 minutes but was impressive in the shootout before Tevez – who was confirmed as a Boca Juniors player during the game – sent Argentina into the last four.
It took just five minutes for Ospina to register his first save with the 26-year-old getting down low at his near post to parry Javier Pastore’s toe-poke.
With Mejia playing as Colombia’s sole defensive midfielder, Pekerman’s men were overrun in the middle.
Argentina had decent arguments for a penalty when Aguero and Messi both went down in the box in the 20th minute, while the former headed over soon after.
Ospina was sharply off his line just before the break to deny Pastore, while he had to beat Angel di Maria to the ball outside his box early in the second half.
James Rodriguez wasted an opportunity to shoot in the 67th minute, before Martinez produced Colombia’s only shot on target, heading straight at Romero from a corner.
Argentina hit the woodwork twice late in the game, with substitute Ever Banega clipping the crossbar before Ospina produced another stunning stop – palming Nicolas Otamendi’s effort onto the post.
The ball rebounded along the goal-line before being cleared.
Colombia breathed another sigh of relief in the 88th minute when Cristian Zapata almost put the ball past Ospina, only for Jeison Murillo to produce a sliding clearance.
Eventually penalties were required, with the first six spot-kicks finding the net before Luis Muriel blasted over the bar with Colombia’s fourth.
After Ezequiel Lavezzi scored off the post, Romero almost denied Cardona but the midfielder’s penalty squeezed under him before Biglia missed to send the shootout into sudden-death mode.
The next three penalty-takers failed to score with Romero denying Zuniga before Rojo clipped the bar and Murillo matched Muriel’s effort, with Tevez calmly converting to decide the game.