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Jul 17, 2011

Argentina dumped out

In the biggest upset of the 2011 Copa America thus far, Uruguay have defeated tournament hosts Argentina on penalties in their quarter-final in Santa Fe.

The match itself ended 1-1 as Argentina dominated large portions of the contest, but Uruguay showed their steel to win the shootout 5-4 and eliminate the favourites. Carlos Tevez, the figure at the centre of much transfer debate, had his spot-kick saved by Fernando Muslera while Uruguay converted all of their penalties in clinical fashion.

Uruguay got off to the ideal start against their South American rivals when Diego Perez prodded home from close range inside the first five minutes. Diego Forlan's free-kick was nodded down inside the area by Alvaro Pereira allowing Perez to move unmarked at the far post to slide in the opening goal.

However, the Uruguayans' advantage would not last long as Argentina hit back through striker Gonzalo Higuain. After a counter-attack from Uruguay broke down in the 17th-minute, Argentine playmaker Lionel Messi cut inside from the right flank and sent an inch-perfect delivery for Higuain to head home.

The hosts then gained the upper hand on 38 minutes when Perez was shown his second yellow card and sent from the pitch. Messi, Angel Di Maria and Sergio Aguero looked to make the most of the extra space after the half-time interval, but for all of their endeavour they were unable to make their dominance count on the scoreboard.

Four minutes from full-time and both sides were down to ten-men, after Javier Mascherano was also shown his second yellow of the match for a foul on Luis Suarez.

Sergio Batista brought on Tevez for Aguero moments before the final whistle, and the substitution nearly paid off as Tevez launched a thunderous free-kick in the final minute of the game. But Muslera was up to the task, making a fine save with his foot as the free-kick deflected off the wall and reacting smartly to deny Higuain off the rebound.

Neither side could make the breakthrough in extra-time, though, despite the persistent efforts of Higuain, Tevez and substitute Javier Pastore, as Uruguay were forced further onto the back foot as time wore on.

However, World Cup semi-finalists Uruguay held their nerve the better of the two sides in the penalty shootout to progress to the final four of the tournament.

In the semi-finals Uruguay will take on Peru, who scored twice in extra-time to defeat Colombia 2-0 in Cordoba on Saturday.

Carlos Lobaton and Juan Vargas were the heroes for Peru, but only after Colombia spurned their chances to win the game during the 90 minutes. Falcao missed a penalty just after the hour-mark, while fellow striker Dayro Moreno hit the post with a stinging strike.

Indeed, Colombia looked the more likely of the two sides throughout the contest, but after Falcao sent his spot-kick wide on 65 minutes following Alberto Rodríguez's foul on Moreno, the momentum shifted toward the resilient Peruvians.

Peru broke the deadlock after 101 minutes when Colombian goalkeeper Luis Martinez collided with his own defender Mario Yepes and failed to claim a high free-kick. Lobaton was on hand to fire home the loose ball from the edge of the area.

The upset victory was then sealed 10 minutes later when Vargas scored to send Peru into the Copa America semi-finals for the first time since 1983.

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