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Uruguay Knocks Out Brazil in Penalty Shootout to Secure Copa America Semi-Final Spot

Uruguay Knocks Out Brazil on Penalties to Secure Copa America Semi-Final Spot

Uruguay triumphed over Brazil 4-2 in a penalty shootout to advance to the semi-finals of the Copa America after a tense and goalless match on Saturday.

The match, held in a city more famous for boxing than soccer, saw Uruguay reduced to 10 men in the 74th minute when Nahitan Nandez was sent off. Despite this setback, Uruguay held firm and will now face Colombia in the semi-final in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Wednesday. Colombia, unbeaten in 27 games, secured their spot with a commanding 5-0 victory over Panama in Arizona.

In the other semi-final, world champions Argentina will take on surprise contenders Canada in New Jersey on Tuesday.

For Brazil, five-time world champions, this early exit marks a disappointing conclusion to a tournament where they struggled to find their rhythm. Coach Dorival Junior’s team faces significant challenges ahead as they prepare for the 2026 World Cup.

The match was a physical battle, marked by 41 fouls and played on a poor-quality pitch that hindered both teams’ performance. The first significant chance came in the 35th minute when Uruguay’s Darwin Nunez missed a clear header. Shortly after, Brazil’s Raphinha had an opportunity, but Uruguay’s goalkeeper Sergio Rochet made a crucial save.

Marcelo Bielsa’s Uruguay played a determined and disruptive game, frequently fouling to break Brazil’s momentum. Brazil, relying heavily on long balls to their 17-year-old forward Endrick, struggled to create effective opportunities.

The game grew increasingly rough, with numerous fouls and lenient refereeing. Uruguay’s strategy to hold out for penalties was threatened when Nandez was sent off after a VAR review for a dangerous tackle on Rodrygo.

With no extra time in Copa America, Uruguay managed to reach the penalty shootout. Federico Valverde scored the first penalty, and Rochet’s save from Eder Militao gave Uruguay an early advantage. After Douglas Luiz hit the post for Brazil, Uruguay led 3-1. Although Alisson Becker saved Jose Gimenez’s penalty, Gabriel Martinelli scored to keep Brazil in contention. However, Manuel Ugarte calmly scored the decisive penalty to secure Uruguay’s place in the semi-finals.

Bielsa praised his team’s composure during the shootout and their determination throughout the match. “I prefer attacking, but I have to commend our defense and the way we played with one less player for 15 minutes,” he said.

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