Tournament favourites Argentina reached the semi-finals of soccer's Copa America on Friday, defeating Colombia 5-4 in a penalty shootout after a fiercely contested match finished scoreless at fulltime.
Juventus striker Carlos Tevez was Argentina's hero, converting the
decisive sudden-death spot kick after Colombia's Murillo had blazed over
It had been a dramatic shootout with Lucas Biglia and Marcos Rojo missing kicks for Argentina that would have sealed victory.
Argentina's win puts them into a semi-final against Brazil or Paraguay.
Defeat was cruel on Colombian goalkeeper David Ospina, who kept his side in the contest with a series of superb saves.
had dominated a one-sided first half which threatened to spiral out of
control with both sides committing numerous niggly fouls that went
unpunished by Mexican referee Roberto Garcia.
Javier Pastore was the first to threaten, touching on a low cross from
Angel Di Maria that was cleared by the Colombian cover after only seven
Three minutes later, captain Lionel Messi swept forward
from halfway and released Di Maria in space only for the Manchester
United striker to shoot tamely at Ospina.
Colombian star James
Rodriguez became the first of six players to receive a caution in the
opening 45 minutes when booked for dissent.
By halftime, three more Colombians - Santiago Arias, Alexander Mejia and Juan Cuadrado - had yellow cards.
For Argentina, Javier Mascherano and Sergio Aguero were booked.
The highlight of the half was an incredible double save by Ospina in the 26th minute.
whose future at Arsenal is uncertain following the signing of Petr
Cech, reminded manager Arsene Wenger of his ability to thwart Aguero and
Messi in quick succession.
A low cross from the right from Pastore picked out Aguero whose shot was saved by Ospina's legs.
seemed certain to score from the rebound as the ball looped into his
path but Ospina somehow recovered in time to parry the skipper's header
over the bar.
Ospina was pressed into action again shortly before
halftime, blocking what would have been a spectacular own-goal from
Cristian Zapata after the defender inadvertently volleyed Di Maria's
Five minutes later, tempers flared when Cuadrado was lucky
to stay on after a rash challenge on Rojo which somehow failed to
warrant a second yellow card.
Argentina's bench were furious,
assistant manager Jorge Pautasso sent to the stands after angrily
remonstrating with the fourth official.
Ospina saved Colombia again with another remarkable diving save to tip Nicolas Otamendi's shot onto the post in the 80th minute.
Ospina was unable to reproduce his heroics in the shootout as Messi,
Ezequiel Garay, Ever Banega, Ezequiel Lavezzi all drilled in their first
Luis Muriel's miss for Colombia gave Biglia the chance to clinch it but the Lazio defender shot wide.
The next three penalties were all missed, leaving Tevez, who signed for Boca Juniors this week, to slam home the winner.