Argentina beat Colombia on penalties to reach Copa America semis

Carlos Tevez slots the decisive spot kick after David Ospina heroics keep Messi at bay

Argentina beat Colombia 5-4 on penalties to reach the Copa America semi-finals. Photograph: Afp

Argentina beat Colombia 5-4 on penalties to reach the Copa America semi-finals. Photograph: Afp

 

Argentina 0 Colombia 0 (Argentina win 5-4 on penalties)

Substitute Carlos Tevez scored the decisive spot kick as Argentina earned a penalty shootout victory over Colombia in Vina del Mar to seal their place in the Copa America semi-finals.

Argentina have found goals hard to come by during the tournament and they contrived to miss chance after chance in a goalless encounter at the Estadio Sausalito, while David Ospina was in particularly fine form in Colombia’s goal.

The Arsenal keeper’s heroics and Argentina’s profligacy meant the match was decided by penalty shootout and, after Colombia and Argentina missed three and two successive penalties respectively, Tevez held his nerve to convert his and send the Albiceleste through.

Argentina remain on course for a record-equalling 15th Copa America title and will play Brazil or Paraguay for a place in the July 4 final in Santiago.

Gerardo Martino’s side started brightly and Angel di Maria showed fine skill down the left flank to create a fifth-minute chance for Javier Pastore, but the Paris St Germain playmaker could not make good contact and Ospina bundled his weak shot behind for a corner.

Argentina continued to dominate and, after Sergio Aguero headed a Di Maria cross inches over the crossbar, Colombia coach Jose Pekerman replaced striker Teofilo Gutierrez with midfielder Edwin Cardona in an attempt to stem wave after wave of Argentinian attacks.

Argentina should have taken the lead in the 25th minute when Pastore crossed for Aguero but Ospina saved the Manchester City striker’s angled shot with his legs before showing fantastic athleticism to return to his feet and keep out Lionel Messi’s point-blank header on the follow-up.

Colombia defender Cristian Zapata nearly turned into his own net while trying to repel yet another Di Maria cross from the left wing but Ospina spared his blushes with a fine reflex save and Colombia went into the interval level.

Play was delayed for a few minutes early in the second half when Ospina and Di Maria collided heavily on the edge of the area but both players were eventually able to continue.

Colombia made a rare foray into Argentina’s half but Jackson Martinez could not exert enough power on a header from a James Rodriguez corner to trouble keeper Sergio Romero.

Tevez and Ever Banega replaced Aguero and Pastore as Martino rang the changes, while Martinez made way for Radamel Falcao as Pekeman followed suit.

Banega grazed the post with a ferocious strike from 25 yards with 12 minutes to play and Colombia rode their luck once again when Jeison Murillo cleared Nicolas Otamendi’s header off the line moments later as Argentina stepped up the pressure in the closing stages.

Tevez poked a shot past the on-rushing Ospina deep into time added on but it lacked the necessary pace to cross the line and was cleared to safety and penalties ensued.

Luis Muriel blazed Colombia’s fourth penalty over the crossbar to hand Argentina the initiative but they were given a reprieve when Lucas Biglia fired his spot kick wide of the target.

The shootout then descended into something of a farce as Juan Zuniga, Marcos Rojo and Jeison Murillo missed the next three penalties before Tevez calmly placed his penalty past Ospina to send Argentina into the semi-finals.

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