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Argentina seek lift-off after Tevez holds his nerve

Reuters , Saturday 27 Jun 2015
Carlos Tevez
Carlos Tevez (Photo: Reuters)
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Carlos Tevez's moment, shaking the elephant off his back to score the decisive penalty in Argentina's shootout win over Colombia, could signal a lift-off for Gerardo Martino's team at the Copa America.

Argentina dominated possession and did most of the running but could not score in open play in a 0-0 quarter-final draw with Colombia, thanks largely to a string of saves by David Ospina.

Tevez then stepped forward to beat Ospina from the spot in the 5-4 shootout win and redeem himself for the miss that put Argentina out of the 2011 tournament at the same stage.

"I can't imagine what it would be like talking to you now if we'd have lost. It would have been very unfair," Martino told reporters.

"I hope we can play in the same way (in the later matches) but score more goals," he said.

Like Alejandro Sabella's side at last year's World Cup, Argentina are making hard work of their progress due to a dearth of finishing despite boasting Lionel Messi and Sergio Aguero in their attack.

The first objective in 2014 was to breach the last-eight barrier at a World Cup for the first time since 1990 and then make it into the semis which is what they have also done in Chile.

Martino must be hoping for a liberating effect after making the semi-finals where they will play either Paraguay, whom they drew 2-2 with in their opening group match, or Brazil, their arch-rivals who beat them in the 2004 and 2007 finals.

"We controlled the entire 90 minutes. They had one header that was their most dangerous chance and their goalkeeper Ospina was probably their key player. It was unfair that we had to go to penalties but that's how it was," Martino said.

Colombia also came to the tournament among the favourites but go home having scored one goal in four matches -- and that from a central defender.

Combative Argentine midfielder Javier Mascherano, who won his 115th cap, had no doubts they had faced a quality side, suggesting Colombia were a yardstick for how good Argentina are.

"The quality of the rivals is there (for all to see) this same Colombia team 12 months ago played a World Cup quarter-final," he said.

"And yet we controlled our game and influenced the rivals' game Today we feel fortified by our game."

But Argentina must sharpen their aim and back up their creative play with goals.

(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)

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