Footy Times

Allison saves: Brazil beat Paraguay on penalties to reach semifinals

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Gabriel Jesus scored the winning spot-kick in a tense penalty shoot-out as Brazil exorcised their demons to beat Paraguay on Thursday and reach the Copa America semi-finals.

Twice before in 2011 and 2015 Paraguay had beaten Brazil at this same stage on penalties at the South American extravaganza.

Willian came closest to scoring in normal time for Brazil when he hit the post as Paraguay held out for a 0-0 draw for more than 40 minutes following the dismissal of Fabian Balbuena for a professional foul on Roberto Firmino.

Brazilian media had been almost in a state of paranoia before the match recalling the painful memories from Argentina in 2011 and Chile four years later when Paraguay produced stubborn defensive displays before snatching victory in the spot-kick lottery.

But it wasn’t to be this time as Brazil goalkeeper Alisson saved Gustavo Gomez’s opening spot-kick at the Gremio Arena in Porto Alegre.

Jesus held his nerve to fire in the winning kick after Gustavo Gomez and Derlis Gonzalez had missed for the visitors, while Roberto Firmino pulled his spot-kick wide for the hosts.

Marquinhos also scored for Brazil, while Paraguay’s shoot-out scorers were Miguel Almiron, Bruno Valdez and Juan Rodrigo Rojas.

Brazil dominated most of the game, especially after Paraguay’s Fabian Balbuena was sent off in the 58th minute for fouling Firmino as he bore down on goal.

Brazil will face the winner of Friday’s quarter-final between Argentina and Venezuela in Belo Horizonte next Tuesday.

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