Paraguay edged Brazil on penalty kicks to end the 2015 Copa America quarterfinals with a memorable upset. The Canarinho grabbed an early lead, but Derlis Gonzalez equalized for the Albirroja late in the second half, and they proceeded to earn the victory from the spot.
They now advance to the event's final four where they are joined by Chile, Peru and Argentina. While it's probably not the group of teams most people expected coming into the tournament, the entertainment value should be high over the remaining rounds.
Let's take a look at the complete quarterfinal results before setting the stage for the next round, which gets underway on Monday.
|2015 Copa America: Quarterfinal Scores|
|June 24||Chile||Uruguay||1-0 Chile|
|June 25||Bolivia||Peru||3-1 Peru|
|June 26||Argentina||Colombia||0-0 (5-4) Argentina|
|June 27||Brazil||Paraguay||1-1 (4-3) Paraguay|
Semifinal Fixtures and Preview
|2015 Copa America: Semifinal Matches|
The first match of the round pits Chile, which is trying to ride the wave of support as the host nation to the title, against a pesky Peru squad.
After scoring 10 goals in the group stage—no other team had more than four—the Roja showed they could also win a defensive battle in the quarters. They completely shut down a talent-laden Uruguay attack, allowing Mauricio Isla to play the role of hero with a late goal.
Peru is coming off an impressive showing of its own, a 3-1 triumph over Bolivia. Paolo Guerrero netted a hat-trick to lead the charge for the Blanquirroja and, while their form has been solid throughout the event, they'll still enter the semis as underdogs.
That said, Peru head coach Ricardo Gareca believes his side has a chance given its improvement during the journey to this stage, as noted by Sacha Pisani of Goal.
"We've got the weapons to be a competitive national team, but I believe that every match we have, we keep getting better," Gareca said. "We should play the best match possible in every match to satisfy the people who always support us."
The next day, Argentina faces off with Paraguay in the other semifinal.
Lionel Messi and Co. also advanced via penalty kicks. It was a surprise to see the Albiceleste and Colombia battle to a scoreless draw given the amount of attacking firepower on the pitch. But Argentina still managed to advance, and the fatigue factor lessens since Paraguay also went the distance.
The Albirroja must use a similar game plan as they did to take down Brazil. The main focus is the defensive third, where they need to limit the dangerous Argentine attacking group's time on the ball and create counterattacks from that pressure.
Rik Sharma of the Daily Mail states they definitely deserve their spot in this round, even though most fans were expecting a different matchup:
All told, this tournament has featured a lot of close, hard-fought matches, and there's no reason to believe that's going to chance now. Still, Chile and Argentina are the favorites to reach the final, as confirmed by ESPN Stats & Info:
A championship match pitting the host nation against Messi would certainly create a terrific spectacle to finish the tournament. On the flip side, Peru and Paraguay are capable of playing the role of spoiler and definitely won't go down without a fight.