Paraguay booked their place in the Copa America final for the first time in 32 years after a penalty shootout win over Venezuela.
Goalkeeper Justo Villar's save to deny Franklin Lucena proved the key moment in
the shootout after a match Venezuela controlled for the most part ended goalless
after extra time.
Venezuela struck the woodwork three times while Paraguay had Jonathan Santana
sent off in extra-time, but still Gerardo Martino's side held on to ensure their
place in Sunday's Buenos Aires showpiece against Uruguay.
Paraguay's progress, which was sealed by a Dario Veron penalty, means they have
qualified for the final despite having not won a match without the aid of
penalties in the tournament so far.
Martino's side were the clear favourites after knocking out Brazil in a
shootout in the quarter-finals while Venezuela were playing in their first ever
Copa America semi-final.
Cesar Farias' side therefore understandably made a nervy beginning and were
indebted to the sharp reflexes of goalkeeper Renny Vega early on as he kept out
Veron's unmarked header.
More casual defending allowed Nelson Haedo Valdez a sight on goal but he
thrashed his effort well wide before the Paraguay striker saw a far better
attempt turned aside by Vega.
Venezuela finally began to settle as the game reached the half hour and had a
goal chalked off on 35 minutes when Oswaldo Vizcaronndo headed past two
team-mates who had drifted offside, although there was an argument they were not
active in the play.
Venezuela then hit the woodwork for the first time just before the break when
Alejandro Moreno headed against the frame before Salomon Rondon's follow-up was
well saved by Villar.
That moment proved to be the highlight of the 90 minutes as the second period
proved a dull affair as caution undermined both sides' play to prompt extra
After the lull of the second half Venezuela struck the woodwork twice more in
the first five minutes of injury time.
First Miku saw a curling effort hit the left-hand post before skipper Juan
Fernando Arango struck the same part of the goal-frame with a free-kick that
then somehow alluded two of his team-mates on the goalline.
Paraguay then had Santana sent off for a second caution just before half time
in extra-time, and while they were rocking for the rest of the additional period
they held on for penalties.
Villar then proved the hero as he saved Lucena's weak third penalty low to his
right before Veron completed a faultless display from the spot to send the
two-time champions through.
Paraguay's success was, however, marred by ugly scenes after the shootout when a mass brawl between players and officials of both teams broke out on the pitch.
Police and security staff took several minutes to bring calm to a situation which is likely to come under investigation from tournament organisers.