Paraguay defeat Venezuela, advance to Copa America Final for first time since 1979

Paraguay defeated Venezuela on penalties for a place in the final of the Copa America after a 0-0 draw. The match wasn’t a pretty affair on the field and was even worse off it. After the final whistle, a mass brawl erupted between players, coaches and officials from both teams. Police had to break up the fight and the Copa organizers will probably be obliged to hand out suspensions.

Venezuela played well but it wasn’t enough to beat Paraguay, who had a man sent off in overtime. The Venezuelans were frustrated by the loss and angered by the hard tackling and time wasting of their opponents. At a post-match press conference, their coach, the 38 year-old Cesar Farias, said the Paraguayans behaved “like stupid kids.”

Paraguay's defender Dario Veron celebrates his winning penalty in the Copa America semifinal as the Venezuelan 'keeper, Renny Vega, looks on in disappointment (Photo: Alejandro Pagini, AFP)

Paraguay are a team are used to the big stage. They nearly knocked out Spain, the eventual champions, in the quarterfinals of last summer’s World Cup, and their experience showed last night when it counted: they made every one of their penalties. They’ll play Uruguay in the final on Saturday despite drawing every game they’ve played so far.

Venezuela, meanwhile, have never made it this far at the Copa. They have every reason to be happy at reaching the bronze-medal game against Peru. But they will surely feel they should have been in the final. They were the better team and had a goal wrongly disallowed for offside. Highlights are here.

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About Nicholas Nehamas

Journalist and soccer fan. I write on politics, culture, business and sports.
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