Venezuela beat Chile 2-1 to complete a weekend of quarterfinal upsets at soccer’s Copa America as defending champion Brazil joined tournament host Argentina in exiting after a penalty shootout.
Gabriel Cichero scored the winning goal with 10 minutes left at San Juan’s Estadio del Bicentenario last night to send Venezuela, known as the Vinotinto, to its first semifinal in 15 attempts. Chile’s Humberto Suazo had matched Oswaldo Vizcarrondo’s first-half header with a 70th-minute strike.
“Glory to the brave people!!! Let’s pay supreme tribute to our glorious Vinotinto boys!!” Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said on his Twitter feed. “Long live Venezuela!! We will win and conquer!!”
Venezuela set up a final four matchup at South America’s continental championship with Paraguay, which earlier ousted Brazil 2-0 on penalties. The Brazilians missed all four of their penalty attempts following a scoreless draw in La Plata.
Brazil, which had been seeking its fifth title in the past six editions, joined Argentina in going out in the quarterfinals. It’s the second time in 43 Copa Americas that neither Brazil nor Argentina made the semifinals of a tournament in which at least one of them took part.
“You need more than will to win matches, you need goals,” Brazil coach Mano Menzes told the tournament’s official website. “All Brazil lacked was goals,”
Of the region’s top four teams in the FIFA world rankings, only 18th-ranked Uruguay made the semifinals.
World Cup Semifinalist
Uruguay, which finished fourth at last year’s World Cup, faces Peru in the first semifinal tomorrow in La Plata as it tries to win a 15th continental championship to move one ahead of the record 14 titles it shares with Argentina.
Manchester City striker Carlos Tevez missed the only penalty two days ago as Uruguay beat Argentina 5-4 in their shootout following a 1-1 draw after extra time.
Brazil’s Elano, Thiago Silva, Andre Santos and Fred all failed to score from 12 yards in yesterday’s shootout against Paraguay, for whom Marcelo Estigarribia and Christian Riveros converted. The match was tied 0-0 after extra time and both teams finished with 10 men following a 13th-minute fracas.
“Brazil dominated for almost the entire match,” Paraguay goalkeeper Justo Villar told the Copa America website. “We had to stay back and run a lot. Penalties are a lottery, which we took well and they failed with theirs.”
Two-time champion Paraguay, which won its most recent title in 1979, takes on first-time semifinalist Venezuela on July 20 in Mendoza. The final is scheduled July 24 in Buenos Aires.
“We are getting stronger all the time,” Venezuela goalkeeper Renny Vega said in a televised interview. “I just hope we can get to the final now.”