Paraguay dumped holders Brazil out of the Copa America and booked their place in the semi-finals in a dramatic penalty shoot-out win.
After two hours of goalless action, spot-kicks were needed to decide the contest and the Samba stars collapsed under the pressure, missing with every single attempt as their opponents triumphed 2-0.
As early as the eighth minute, Brazil had threatened to strike first. Neymar should have capitalised on some desperate Paraguayan defending but the Santos man volleyed narrowly over after a loose ball broke kindly to him on the edge of the box.
Brazil lacked their characteristic flair going forward initially and a steadfast opposition defence prevented any meaningful advances from Mano Menezes’ charges early on.
Neymar was once again at the centre of things but the in-demand forward inexplicably failed to convert a gilt-edged opportunity to the relief of Gerardo Martino’s men.
Minutes later, Brazil came even closer to breaking the deadlock. Lucio got on the end of Andre Santos’ excellent free-kick but Paraguay’s goalkeeper Justo Villar managed to block the shot from point-blank range with his feet.
Despite largely controlling the first-half, the 2007 winners didn’t play with their usual incisiveness and headed into the break level after failing to break down a well-organised Paraguayan side.
Mano Menezes' men emerged from the interval in a more determined mood as they finally got into their groove. Neymar almost grabbed the lead as his shot had Villar beaten but Antolin Alcaraz was on the line to ensure their clean sheet remained intact.
This proved to be an ominous sign of things to come as Brazil laid siege on Paraguay’s goal. Neymar and Robinho went close as Ganso then drew a fine save from the inspired goalkeeper.
Villar maintained the goalless encounter exactly that way when Pato looked destined to net the opener but the shot stopper managed to thwart the Milan striker’s effort with his foot.
Pato had more glorious opportunities to clinch the winner but his initial effort was blocked well by Villar and his second shot was headed into the side-netting with the goal at his mercy.
When the goalkeeper was beaten, Edgar Barreto was on hand to deny Fred’s goal-bound header on the line as Brazil relentlessly pushed for a late goal to finish off the resilient Paraguayans.
Menezes’ side huffed and puffed right until the end of the 90 minutes but Paraguay withstood an incredible amount of pressure to close out normal time and ensure the match went on for another 30 minutes.
After entirely dominating the second half, Brazil’s command of play continued right from the beginning of extra-time. They still passed the ball around with swagger and confidence as Paraguay’s energy-sapped legs looked devoid of any creativity to conjure up an unlikely winner for themselves.
Frustration crept into both sides as a huge scuffle began instigated by Brazil’s Lucas Leiva and Paraguay’s Alcaraz received red cards for their petulance. Despite having a stranglehold on possession, Menezes’ team couldn’t carve open any notable chance as the first half of extra-time slipped by.
Brazil looked to have run out of ideas for the second half of extra-time as they once more couldn’t break down a staunch Paraguayan defence.
The underdogs nearly put the holders out with minutes remaining as a wonderfully flighted cross was met by Nelson Valdez’s right foot but the volley swept just wide of Julio Cesar’s post.
After 120 minutes, the match went to penalties as two nations collectively held their breaths to see who would win this lottery.
Amazingly, the Selecao then missed every single one of their spot-kicks, with Paraguay converting just two of their own to win a bizarre shoot-out.
Estigarribia and Christian Riveros were the only players to find the net as they helped their team to a stunning 2-0 win.
Paraguay will now play the winner of the last quarter-final between Chile and Venezuela in the last four on July 20 in Mendoza for a place in the Copa America final. Peru face Uruguay in the other semi-final.
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