Hosts Colombia crashed out of the FIFA Futsal World Cup on penalties as Paraguay triumphed following a goalless 50 minutes, with Gabriel Ayala striking the winning spot-kick to clinch a 3-2 victory.
With expectations slung heavy around their shoulders, Colombia were able to shake loose that extra weight and begin the game on the front foot. An understandably tight encounter, the hosts were able to keep the pressure cranked up as Gabriel Gimenez in the Paraguay goal was kept the busier of the two goalkeepers.
But there was perhaps a nervous energy amongst those in yellow, operating without the calming presence of captain Angellott Caro and Jorge Abril – both suspended, as they poured forward, while their counterparts in grey were more pensive, happy to get a feel for the ball.
It was the later who came closest to opening the scoring in the first half, with Emmanuel Ayala thumping the underside of the bar after Adolfo Salas had tip-toed his way through the Colombian side superbly.
Paraguay returned with a bit of extra zip in their play and something looked like it had to give. They clipped the woodwork as Carlos Nanez got lucky, then Colombia wasted their forays forward. Half an hour passed, then 35 minutes, then 40: still no goal.
Paraguay had the chances to win it, with both Emmanuel Ayala and Juan Salas missing gilt-edged chances as they dominated. Nanez’s importance in the goalless state of affairs grew and grew, with save after save, before Miguel Sierra’s goal-saving block brought penalties.
It was substitute goalkeeper Carlos Espinosa who was the first hero for Paraguay, coming off the bench to save two penalties, before Gabriel Ayala fired them into a tie with either Brazil or Iran in Bucaramanga on Saturday.