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July 20, 2011
• 8:45 PM
• Estadio Malvinas Argentinas, Mendoza, Provincia de Mendoza
Referee: F. Chacon
Paraguay won 5 - 3 on penalties
That's the end of extra time. Penalties will decide this. Who will be the hero? Vega has built a reputation as a good shot-stopper, but Villar was on great form against Brazil, and saved one of the four penalties. Only time will tell who will go through here...
120' + 9'
Pen SO Goal D. Verón
120' + 8'
Pen SO Goal Miku
120' + 7'
Pen SO Goal O. Martínez
120' + 6'
Pen SO Miss F. Lucena
120' + 5'
Pen SO Goal C. Riveros
120' + 4'
Pen SO Goal José Manuel Rey
120' + 3'
Pen SO Goal L. Barrios
120' + 2'
Pen SO Goal G. Maldonado
120' + 1'
Pen SO Goal Néstor Ezequiel Ortigoza
Arango swings in a great cross, and Villar comes and punches it away from Miku at the last moment. Twenty seconds to go.
Two minutes remain. Vizcarrondo and Da Silva are down after a clash of heads. This will break up Venezuela's rhythm further.
Paraguay have a shot! Martinez tries to chip Vega, but it's gone well over.
Maldonado has a strike from distance, it goes wide, seemingly via a deflection, but it's a goal kick. Villar doesn't take it - he has a 'muscle problem'....
Rondon shows some fantastic work to get down to the by-line, but his pull-back towards Miku has far too much on it. Miku and Rondon have done well together - I'm sure that they'll start together in the final or the third place play-off.
Eight minutes of extra time to go. Villar is in no hurry to take a goal kick.
Yellow Card D. Verón
105' + 2'
Veron now picks up a yellow. He chested Fedor after the two went up for a ball. Fedor of course went down like a sack of bolts, but the referee sensibly kept the color yellow. This match is scrappy as anything.
105' + 1'
In the next match, be it the final or the third-place game, Paraguay won't have anyone on the bench. Both the coach and assistant will be expelled to the stands. One of the trainers or goalkeeper coach will have to take sideline duties.
Well this is extraordinary. First the head coach for Paraguay was dismissed for arguing, and now the assistant has been sent to the stands. The players were arguing in the middle, and the assistant wouldn't stop giving the fourth official a piece of his mind, so was asked to take it elsewhere.
Yellow/Red J. Santana
That's the end of the road for Santana. Another clumsy tackle sees the midfielder pick up his second yellow. He'll miss the last few minutes of this one and the final or third placed game.
Arango again, easily Venezuela's best player, finds Fedor with a long ball from the left. Fedor tries to hit it one-time, but mistimes it and wastes the chance.
Oh my! Venezuela crashes a free kick off the crossbar through Arango, and neither of the two players in the box can get a foot on it for the easy tap-in. Santana somehow manages to clear.
Roque Santa Cruz
Yellow Card J. Santana
Roque Santa Cruz
Yellow Card Roberto Rosales
José Manuel Rey
45' + 47'
Marcelo Estigarribia wins a free kick down the left, but the referee doesn't let Paraguay take it. Instead we'll head to extra time. Grab a drink and strap yourselves in for another half hour of this slug-fest.
45' + 44'
Venezuela sends a last, looping free kick into the box. If the referee is kind, he'll spare the audience extra time and skip straight to penalties.
45' + 42'
Hard to believe these two teams played out a thrilling 3-3 draw in the group stages. This one's as tight and scoreless as they come -- disallowed goal in the first half aside.
45' + 40'
Former Chivas USA striker Maldonado enters for Venezuela.
45' + 38'
With 10 minutes to go the match is still choppy and disconnected. Neither side has created a great chance in the half, and this one just might be destined for extra time.
45' + 36'
Turns out a poor gamble. Santa Cruz makes way just a few minutes after entering. Looked like he pulled a hamstring - he was holding the back of his leg gingerly. That's a blow for player and country.
45' + 34'
Santana bundles in an clips the sub Fedor. With his defenders still secure behind him, that looked a tad unnecessary, especially how far out the play was. Arango swerved a shot on target from way out on the set piece, but Villar covers.
45' + 29'
Not to be outdone, Paraguay makes another move. The great Roque Santa Cruz makes an appearance. The commentator calls it a gamble, given his injury problems during this tournament, but any time Paraguay leaves its goalscoring hero out, it's a gamble as well.
45' + 28'
Venezuela reacts to the Estigarribia sub with a change of its own. Medor comes on to replace MLS stalwart Alejandro Moreno.
45' + 26'
Here we go: the exciting Marcelo Estigarribia is entering. The winger's full of filthy speed and tricks, and was a surprise choice for the bench. Earlier in the group stages, he hazed Dani Alves down the flank to the point that Maicon started the remainder of the games.
45' + 23'
That was a wasted chance. Paraguay sends a throw into the box, which is chested back into the run of Valdez. However, his shot comes off the wrong part of his boot, and the ball sails out for a throw - not even a goal kick, it was so wide.
45' + 19'
Paraguay with that set piece chance. Riveros flicked a shot off a Venezuela defender for a corner, which in turn results in a free kick. An offside turned the ball over, though.
45' + 15'
The game is still dragging considerably. Venezuela seems quite content to sit around and wait for set piece chances, while Paraguay is slightly too timid to take control of the match and attack. It should pick up as the clock runs down.
45' + 10'
The pace continues to lag. HOwever, another quick ball over the top saw Rosales plow over Valdez. Rosales earned a yellow for what looked more like clumsiness.
45' + 7'
After a sleepy opening few minutes, Paraguay carves out the first chance. A quick counter sets Valdez free down the right channel. His tight angled shot was blocked with no one waiting in the box.
45' + 2'
One change during the break: Grenddy Perozo won't return. The defender had limped off holding his left boot in his hand and isn't fit enough to continue. Rey replaces him.
45' + 1'
And we're back. At least 45 more minutes in this one. Scoreless through the first half, but that should all change shortly.
That's half. It's somehow still even heading into the break after a disallowed goal and a shot off the bar.
Well that was a clear chance. Villar once again came up huge. Alejandro Moreno looped a header back of the crossbar and then Villar somehow managed to stay alert enough to block Rondon's close-fire shot.
Venezuela continuing to apply pressure through a series of set pieces. All the big guns are up and in the box. However, the most damage it can inflict is a shot from Arango that Da Silva took to the groin.
Arango swings the ball in, and Cichero heads it back to Vizcarrondo, who heads it in. The linesman rules it out, for reasons unknown. Venezuela should be a goal up, Paraguay can count its blessings once more.
Just the one shot from Venezuela so far - Paraguay has registered six.
Barreto crosses again, but the ball is far too close for Vega, who's dominating his own six-yard box. All Paraguay at the moment. They've realized that they're the better team and can probably afford to throw a few players forward.
Arango's back on, and though he's moving gingerly, he's running. Barreto sends in another deep cross from a set-piece, and Da Silva gets his head to it, but there's not enough power and Vega gathers the ball easily.
Juan Arango - the Venezuela captain and talisman is on a stretcher - this could be bad for Venezuela...
But not here. It's headed away at the near post, Valdez sprints the length of the pitch, is through on goal, but fails to find the target - an easy save for Vega, who puts it out for a corner. Lucas Barrios goes down when the ball is sent in, but only Barrios and god know why....
Great running from Salomon Rondon wins Venezuela their first corner of the game. Paraguay were undone at the end of the group match from a corner.
Alejandro Moreno is down after Paulo da Silva's hand makes contact with his face. Slight delay for treatment.
Valdez cuts inside to play a through-ball to Barrios, but it's slightly over-hit and easy for Vega.
Ortigoza crosses it into Barrios, who flicks it back to Barreto, who shoots first time, sending the ball over. Good play, bad finish.
The game has settled into a rhythm and the teams are exchanging periods of passing play in the centre of the pitch.
A poor pass from Vega to Cichero presents Valdez with a good chance, but he snatches at it and it goes high and wide. Wasted opportunity for Paraguay.
Arango swings in a free kick, but Barrios gets it away with his head. the ball falls to Vizcarrondo, who swings wildly at it, but makes no connection.
A bit of a mix-up from Paraguay. Rondon closes down Da Silva and Villar is made to lap up a deflected pass.
So close to 1-0! Veron meets the ball from a set-piece, and but for a great diving save from Vega, Paraguay would be a goal ahead here.
Juan Arango lays it off to Cichero with a great touch, and the Venezuela full-back shoots from distance - it doesn't trouble Villar, but good play from the Vinotinto.
Paraguay attack again down the right, and Marcos Caceres puts in a threatening ball, but it's slightly over-hit.
Vizcarrondo wins a free-kick after an aerial tackle with Lucas Barrios.
Paraguay threaten for the first time. Haedo Valdez collects the ball outside the area in acres of space and his attempt to pull it back to Barrios is poor and Venezuela get it away.
Gonzalez is lucky to avoid a yellow card after a blatant and dive.
Vega gets an early touch in the Venezuela goal after Santana's poor cross from the left.
Venezuela have kicked off and attack immediately down the left. Paraguay's defence is as stern as ever and crowd them out.
And Venezuela are about to kick off...
So, can Venezuela do the unthinkable and challenge Uruguay for their first ever Copa America final? If you have any thoughts, musings, questions or predictions, you can tweet them to me (@eniskoylu). The teams are out and we're in the middle of the national anthems - kick off will be any minute now.
Venezuela, meanwhile have: Renny Vega; Roberto Rosales, Grenddy Perozo, Oswaldo Vizcarrondo, Gabriel Cichero; Franklin Lucena, Giacomo Di Giorgi, Cesar Gonzalez, Juan Arango; Nicolas 'Miku' Fedor, Salomon Rondon.
The teams are in, and there a few surprises - Paraguay line up with Justo Villar; Marcos Caceres, Paulo da Silva, Dario Veron, Ivan Piris; Edgar Barreto, Nestor Ortigoza, Christian Riveros, Jonathan Santana; Nelson Valdez, Lucas Barrios. No place for Estigarribia or Roque Santa Cruz, who is back from injury. Alcaraz misses out due to the red card he picked up against Brazil.
Plenty at stake here as this year's surprise-package Venezuela fight for a first-ever appearance in the final of the competition, while Paraguay will be looking to secure their place against Uruguay in what would be their first final appearance since 1963.
Good evening and welcome to the Goal.com coverage of the Copa America semi-final between Venezuela and Paraguay.
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