Brazil advances to final of Copa America

Jul 11, 2007 - 6:53 AM MARACAIBO, Venezuela (Ticker) -- Brazil advanced to the final of the Copa America on Tuesday with a dramatic 5-4 penalty shootout victory over Uruguay.

With the sides locked at 2-2 at the end of 90 minutes, the game went straight to penalties and skipper Diego Lugano missed the crucial spot kick for Uruguay to send Dunga's side through.

"The difficult momentsare when the teamhave to step up and tonight we did," Dunga said.

Brazil went ahead after 12 minutes when Uruguay keeper Fabian Carini could only parry Mineiro's shot and Maicon converted the rebound.

The match then had to be stopped for 13 minutes due to one of the four floodlights failing but after lengthy discussions, the players agreed to carry on.

Julio Baptista sent a free kick just wide before Brazil keeper Doni did well to deny both Diego Forlan and Alvaro Recoba just after the half-hour mark However, Uruguay's pressure paid off as Forlan took advantage of a mistake by Doni to draw his side level in the 36th minute.

But parity lasted a mere five minutes as Baptista got on the end of Gilberto Silva's free-kick to put Brazil back in front at the break.

Carini was made to work to keep out Robinho's free kick from the edge of the area just after half-time before Sebastian Abreu livened up a pedestrian second period with the equalizer 20 minutes from the end as the substitute applied the finishing touch to Forlan's header at the far post.

That proved to be the last real action of the game as both sides were happy to settle for penalties.

In the shootout, Doni saved Forlan's opening penalty for Uruguay before Carini kept out Afonso's effort with Brazil leading 3-2.

With the scores all-square at 4-4, Fernando missed for Brazil, giving Pablo Garcia the chance to be the hero but the Osasuna midfielder hit the post.

Gilberto then scored and Doni denied Lugano to send Brazil through to Sunday's final as they bid for their eighth Copa America title, while Oscar Tabarez's men will play for third place.

"To be able to win one must know how to suffer," Dunga said. "The credit goes to all of the players.They are putting in a huge amount of effort. "They could have gone on holiday after a hard year in Europe but they chose to serve to Brazil."

However, Gilbero Silva will not be available for the final as the midfielder will be suspended after picking up his second yellow card of the competition.

But Dunga believes they can cope with the absence of the Arsenal star.

"Brazil has a great squad and there are a lot of players that can replace Gilberto Silva," Dunga said. "We will think about options during the next few days. We also have to evaluate theexhaustion and the physical toll the game took on some of the players."

Gilberto Silva admitted it will be hard to miss out on the showpiece game. "It will be very difficult to watch the game from the bench but I will try to help and support all my team-mates," he said. "That's the only thing that I can do."

Striker Robinho admitted Brazil were not at their best but was glad to win the game.

"It wasn't our best game but Brazil are in the final. Only that matters," Robinho said. "It's true we did not play well, but we reached our target."

Defender Juan praised Dunga for guiding the side all the way to the final.

"Now that we have made the final, the people have to see the good work of coach Dunga," Juan said. "Everythingthat we worked on in training has paid off."

Goal-scorer Maicon, on the other hand, consoled their opponents.

"Uruguay are a great team and deserves great recognition," Maicon said. "We have to relax and rest. Now, Argentina and Mexico will fight for the other berth."






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