THE DAY REPLAYED – In a fitting way to bring the first phase of the Copa America 2011 to a close, Wednesday’s Group B encounters produced goals, excitement and surprises in equally plentiful measure. Brazil, who went into their game with Ecuador under a cloud, emerged 4-2 victors in a thrilling encounter to claim top spot in the section. Venezuela, meanwhile, after seemingly being down and out against Paraguay, somehow conjured two late strikes to secure the draw that sealed second place.
FIFA.com brings you the pick of a night featuring 12 goals, topsy-turvy encounters and Ecuador’s exit from the continental competition.
Lightning strikes twice
After going 3-1 up with just six minutes to go against Venezuela in Salta, via goals from Antolin Alcaraz, Lucas Barrios and Cristian Riveros, Paraguay took their foot off the gas and allowed La Vinotinto to level the game thanks to late efforts from Nicolas Fedor and Grenddy Perozo. La Albirroja thus let slip a winning position for the second time in two games, with Brazil striker Fred having grabbed a last-gasp equaliser in the sides’ 2-2 draw on 9 July. “Today we took a step backwards, we should maybe even have lost this game,” said Los Guaraníes’ visibly concerned coach Gerardo Martino afterwards, whose side will meet A Seleção once more in the last eight.
Goalscorers at the double
In the vibrant encounter between Brazil and Ecuador, there were doubles from A Verde e Amarelo duo Alexandre Pato and Neymar as well as La Tri’s Felipe Caicedo – none of whom had found the net prior to the match in Cordoba. And despite his side’s exit from the competition, Caicedo’s brace meant he was at least able to send a message to his girlfriend via the TV cameras, having written her name on his shinpad.
In his first start at this year’s Copa, the Brazilian right-back was the star of the show for the five-time world champions. Dominant in defence, the Inter Milan flyer was a threat on the overlap throughout, while his final ball was consistently of the highest quality – an overall display that was undoubtedly one of the high points of Brazil’s group campaign.
Goal of the day
Paraguay-Venezuela, Grenddy Perozo '90
It may not have been the most spectacular goal of the night, but it was certainly the most dramatic. In the closing moments of the clash between Paraguay and Venezuela and with La Vinotinto trailing 3-2, goalkeeper Renny Vega went up for his side’s final corner as a last throw of the dice. Despite measuring in at just 1.74m, the custodian managed to get in between La Albirroja’s centre-backs and nod the ball down to the far post, where Perozo acrobatically headed home. Coach Cesar Farias’ men thus continued their unbeaten start to the competition, and they now meet Chile in the quarter-finals.
1 – Venezuela’s draw with Paraguay gave them their first ever point against Los Guaraníes in Copa America history, having lost all four of the previous meetings between the teams – scoring five times to 16 conceded.
What they said…
“When the game started, Robinho came over and told me to take it easy because they needed to win to go through. We’re good mates so it’s not a problem. I didn’t take any notice of him, though unfortunately it still wasn’t enough. We’re heading out of this Copa with a bitter taste in our mouths,” Felipe Caicedo, scorer of both Ecuador’s goals against Brazil, on his exchange with former Manchester City team-mate Robinho
The Copa America will swing back into action on Saturday 16 July with the competition’s first two quarter-finals: Colombia-Peru and Argentina-Uruguay. On Sunday 17 July, it is the turn of Brazil-Paraguay and Chile-Venezuela.