Uruguay ousts Argentina on penalties in Copa America

AP, Sunday 17 Jul 2011

Argentina suffer a shock Copa America exit after losing to Uruguay on penalties following a 1-1 draw in the quarter finals on Saturday

Argentina V Uruguay
Argentina suffer stunning Copa America exit after defeat against Uruguay

The game ended 1-1 after regulation time and there was no addition to that scoreline in extra time. The final tally in the shootout was 5-4 to Uruguay.

Diego Perez gave Uruguay a surprise 1-0 lead in the 6th minute, but Gonzalo Higuain equalized in the 18th. Argentina had a man advantage from the 39th when Perez received his second yellow. But Muslera and Uruguay’s rugged defense stopped Argentina, which had a dozen chances in regulation and extra time. 

The teams returned to even strength when Argentina captain Javier Mascherano was sent off in the 87th.

It’s a bitter loss Argentina, which was hoping to win its first major trophy in 18 years; and hoping to do it at home with Lionel Messi, the world’s best player. Messi showed flashes, but was unable to deliver for his home nation where he has been often criticized for not performing as well as he does at Barcelona.

Again, Argentina’s smaller neighbor Uruguay was the better side. Last year in the World Cup in South Africa, Uruguay also reached the semifinals with Argentina going out at the quarterfinal stage.

Argentina coach Sergio Batista is now likely to come under enormous pressure. Batista replaced Diego Maradona following the World Cup.

Argentina controlled the early part of the match with Messi often splitting the Uruguay defense with precision passes.

But when Uruguay went down a man, it became more defense-minded and Argentina struggled to break down its opponent. When the Gauchos did manage to put some play together, Muslera came up with a dozen key saves.

Messi and Gonzalo Higuain almost won it several times in the second half. Messi forced Muslera into a diving save in the 63rd minute. In the 78th, Higuain took a pass from Messi in the area, and turned and fired with Muslera sprawling to stop his shot.

Javier Pastore tested Muslera a few minutes later.

In the final minute of regulation time, Messi’s free kick from 30 meters was headed for the goal until Muslera kicked out his left leg for a miraculous save.

Uruguay striker Diego Forlan almost snatched the game with the last shot of regulation time.

In extra time, Messi, Pastore and Higuain all had chances further chances to net the winner. The best came in the 111th when Higuain shot into the outside of the netting from close range.

The shootout was level at 2-2 when Tevez went for power rather than placement, and Muslera guessed right, diving to his right to block the shot. All the other spotkicks were converted.

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