Colombia defeated Uruguay 4-2 on penalties after drawing 0-0 at the end of regular time in the Estadio Nacional de Brasilia, in Brasilia, Brazil, to move onto the semifinals of Copa America 2021. Later that evening, Argentina defeated ten-man Ecuador 3-0 in a wild, overly rough (30 fouls, five yellow cards, and one red card) and poorly officiated match in Estadio Olimpico Pedro Ludovico, in Goiania, Brazil.
In an evenly fought, foul-ladden battle between two of South America’s strongest soccer nations, it took penalties to decide a winner after the teams had reached the end of regular time without reaching a conclusion. But in a match that saw Uruguay only take seven (three on target) to Colombia’s nine shots (also three on target), it was the physicality and endurance of the Colombians which stood out. The Uruguayans seemed tired and out of ideas while their opponents seem to enlarge in direct proportion to the growing Uruguayan deficiencies.
Uruguay were favored and had the better players on the pitch. Colombia, without the injured Radamel Falcao, and the not-selected James Rodriquez, were also without their talismanic leader, Juan Cuadrado who was serving a suspension. The deserved result was a testament to Colombia’s tenacity and perseverance, but also to Uruguay’s aging team and their coach’s lack of inventiveness.
Colombia moves on to the semifinals and it will be a greater force to contend with as Cuadrado joins their ranks.
Argentina, still trying to produce a defining victory in this Copa America 2021, found themselves playing one of the continent’s poorer soccer nations and it took a lot of favorable officiating, lots of play-acting, some rough tackling and substantial fouling, and some running-the-score-up one-upmanship from Argentina to arrive at the 3-0 scoreline.
The first half was evenly played despite the overly favored Argentine’s full-throttle, desperation-mode, full-pitch press on the Ecuadorians. It took forty minutes of multiple fouls and sporadic good play for the Albiceleste to break down La Tricolor, when Rodrigo De Paul scored just before halftime.
In the second half, the match continued to be a tight affair with the exception of the last ten minutes or so, when the number of pro-Argentina officiating gifts seemed to dwindle the Ecuadoreans’ resolve. The match was then rounded out with Lautaro Martinez scoring at the 84th and Lionel Messi scoring a sublime free-kick at the 90+3 minute.
The result puts Argentina in a semifinal they will be favored in against Colombia, but truth be told the Colombians do not look like pushovers and the Argentines do not look like giant beaters. This should be a classic showdown as Messi’s troops will have to be at their best technically and physically to handle Colombia, and as of this writing, the Argentines have only had two tough matches and drew one (Chile) and barely won the other, against Uruguay 1-0.