Uruguay knock Brazil out on penalties to move into Copa America semi-finals

Uruguay triumphed over Brazil 4-2 in a penalty shootout on Saturday after being reduced to 10 players in a gruelling 0-0 draw at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, advancing to the Copa America semi-finals where they will meet Colombia.

With Vinicius Jr suspended and watching from the stands, Dorival Jr’s Brazilian side struggled to capitalise on their numerical advantage late in the second half following the dismissal of Uruguay’s Nahitan Nandez.

During the penalty shootout, Sergio Rochet saved Brazil’s first attempt from Eder Militao, and Douglas Luiz’s shot hit the post, giving Uruguay the edge. Although Alisson Becker saved Jose Maria Gimenez’s penalty and Gabriel Martinelli scored to keep Brazil in contention, Manuel Ugarte sealed the victory for Uruguay with the decisive spot-kick as they continue their pursuit of a record 16th Copa title.

“It was an incredibly tense match against a very challenging opponent, especially suffering with one man down in the final minutes. But we displayed character despite our youth,” Rochet remarked. “To finish with penalties and win, I managed to save one… The truth is it brings immense happiness that this group and our country deserve. We are very excited and aiming for more.”

In a rough clash marked by 41 fouls from both teams, players engaged in physical confrontations all over the field. Brazil’s 17-year-old forward, Endrick, endured harsh challenges as Uruguay’s aggressive pressing left him no room to manoeuvre. At one point, Raphinha reacted when Endrick was knocked down by Ronald Araujo, with the Brazilian captain angrily shoving back before the referee intervened and issued warnings, opting not to show any cards.

However, Araujo’s game was cut short due to an injury just after the half-hour, and the match suddenly sparked into action moments later when Darwin Nunez missed a close-range header that went over the bar. Seconds later, Raphinha’s shot on a counter-attack was saved by keeper Rochet, representing Brazil’s best opportunity of the half.

Red card on review

With Uruguay struggling to break through, coach Marcelo Bielsa made three substitutions by the 67th minute. However, his plans were disrupted when Nandez received a red card for a rough tackle on Rodrygo. Nandez tried to dispossess the Brazilian with a studs-up challenge but only managed to catch his ankle. Fortunately, the Real Madrid winger was not seriously injured and was able to continue playing. Initially shown a yellow card, Nandez’s punishment was upgraded to a red after a VAR review.

Although Uruguay had more attempts on goal, Brazil had better accuracy with more shots on target. Despite this, Brazil failed to score against a ten-man Uruguay, who defended in numbers for the final 20 minutes, aiming for a penalty shootout as there is no extra time in the Copa America except for the final. This marks Brazil’s second consecutive quarter-final exit via penalties in a major tournament, following their 2022 World Cup defeat to Croatia.

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“We aim to elevate Brazil to the top; we will keep working and preparing for the World Cup qualifiers,” Endrick stated. “We recognise this is a challenging period, but we hope for the support of all Brazilians.”

Uruguay is set to take on Colombia in the semi-final on Wednesday in Charlotte, North Carolina, following their impressive 5-0 victory over Panama earlier on Saturday.

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