Copa America: Brazil, Peru edge past Chile, Paraguay to reach semis

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RIO DE JANEIRO — Defending Copa America champions Brazil defended strongly with 10 men to advance to the semifinals with a 1-0 win on Friday against Chile. Substitute Lucas Paqueta scored the only goal of the match only seconds before Gabriel Jesus was sent off early in the second half.

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Paqueta’s winner to the left corner of Chilean goalkeeper Claudio Bravo in the 46th minute gave Brazil fans some hope that the Selecao would ease into the next stage. But only two minutes later Jesus was sent off after hitting Chile’s Eugenio Mena with a flying kick.

Neymar and Brazil coach Tite said after the match that Jesus didn’t see Mena and accidentally kicked him as he tried to recover possession in the midfield.

Brazil worked so hard defensively that Chile had fewer shots on goal after Jesus was sent off than during the time he played; two against three.

“Defending well is a characteristic of ours,” Brazil’s Thiago Silva said. “Regardless of what we did today we concede few goals. Ever down to 10 we created clear opportunities. I am very proud of this team, for its fighting spirit.”

Paqueta came onto the pitch after a tense first half with few opportunities for both sides. He replaced Roberto Firmino.

Brazil didn’t stop threatening Chile with Neymar’s dribbles and quick counter-attacks. But Chile was much closer to the equalizer; it had an Eduardo Vargas goal disallowed for offside and English-Chilean Ben Brereton hit the bar with a header in the 68th minute.

An exhausted Neymar said after the match that playing with 10 men was a great test for Brazil. He was not close to scoring as in other Copa America matches, but he was key by holding possession.

“Every match we need to get some tests to make us stronger, show we can do it in every circumstance,” Neymar said. “We had to stand together. It was very hard to do it.”


Peru beat Paraguay 4-3 on penalties Friday to advance to the Copa America semifinals in the most thrilling tournament match so far.

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Regular time at the Olimpico Stadium in Goiania finished 3-3 after a hard-fought match that included red cards to key players of both teams and two goals by Italian-born Gianluca Lapadula for Peru.

The decisive moment in the quarterfinal came after Peruvian goalkeeper Pedro Gallese stopped Alberto Espinola in the shootout. Miguel Trauco converted his shot to put the runners- up of the 2019 Copa America back in contention.

Daniel Martinez and Braian Samudio had also missed for Paraguay. Santiago Ormeno and Christian Cueva were stopped by Paraguay’s Antony Silva.

“This was an amazing match,” a tired Lapadula said after the shootout, in which he converted from the spot. “We can’t choose adversaries, we have to think we are in the semifinal. Now we have to work to get there well.” Peru will face either Brazil or Chile, which also play Friday.

Paraguay was without Miguel Almiron, one of its top players in the tournament, due to a left thigh injury.

Coach Eduardo Berizzo’s side opened the scoring in the 11th minute with Gustavo Gomez pushing the ball to the empty net after a corner.

Lapadula scored his first in the 21st from close range after an assist from Andre Carrillo. He added another in the 40th minute with a crossed shot from the left flank after Paraguayan defenders stopped to complain about a foul.

Peruvians looked certain they would advance after they took the lead and Paraguayan defender Gomez was sent off in added time after a second yellow.

But Paraguay started the second half well and put pressure on Peru. Junior Alonso levelled the scoring in the 54th minute after burying the ball past Gallese after a corner. And opportunities kept coming, especially in corners.

Peru’s Yoshimar Yotun frustrated Paraguayans with a goal from the edge of the box 80th minute after the ball deflected off a Paraguayan defender. But more twists were to come.

Five minutes later, Peruvian striker Andre Carrillo also received his second yellow. Paraguay decided to charge forward and it resulted in a late close-range goal by substitute Gabriel Avalos – who had stepped in eight minutes before – to level the match and send it to penalties.

Lapadula said on Instagram he had ended the intense match with a broken nose.

Peru advanced to the semifinals after Lapadula, Yotun, Renato Tapia and Trauco scored in the shootout. Paraguay’s Angel Romero, Alonso and Robert Piris da Motta also converted.

“We can’t enjoy this, we have to focus on what is coming,” said Peru coach Ricardo Garea, who took the team to its fourth consecutive Copa America semifinal. “We have embodied a playing style for many years now.”