Brazil 0-0 Paraguay (Brazil win 4-3 on penalties): Alisson secures Copa America semi-finals
Hosts will now face either Venezuela or Argentina in the semis
Last Updated: 28/06/19 11:57am
Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson was the hero as Brazil beat Paraguay 4-3 on penalties to progress to the Copa America semi-finals on Thursday.
Alisson dived to his left to stop the initial penalty by defender Gustavo Gomez, and Manchester City striker Gabriel Jesus sealed the victory to keep Brazil on track for their first Copa America title since 2007.
Brazil will next face either Venezuela or rivals Argentina, who play on Friday in Rio de Janeiro.
Brazil had lost to Paraguay the last two times the teams met in the Copa America quarter-finals, in 2011 and 2015, both times in penalty shootouts.
Derlis Gonzalez also missed from the spot for Paraguay, while Liverpool striker Roberto Firmino failed to score for Brazil, with both players sent their shots wide.
Gonzalez, who missed a penalty in Paraguay's 1-1 draw against Argentina in the group stage, had scored the decisive goal in the 2015 shootout. He was one of the five players back from that team that eliminated Brazil.
Willian, Marquinhos and Philippe Coutinho converted their penalties for the tournament hosts, while Miguel Almiron, Bruno Valdez and Rodrigo Rojas netted for Paraguay.
"My team-mates did their part, they took on the responsibility and succeeded. That was crucial," Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson said. "This was an important step toward our goal of winning the South American title."
Jesus had missed a late penalty in Brazil's 5-0 rout of Peru in their last group game, but calmly found the net with his shot from the spot as Paraguay goalkeeper Roberto 'Gatito' Fernandez went the other way, igniting the Brazilian crowd of more than 48,000 at the Arena Gremio.
"I was confident, I knew that if I took the penalty the way I'm used to taking it, I would have more chances of scoring," Jesus said. "I was upset after the other match because I didn't take the shot my own way. This time I waited for the goalkeeper to move and just sent the ball the other way."
Gatito had been key as the visitors held on to a 0-0 draw despite having a defender sent off in the 58th minute. In the Copa America quarter-finals, extra time is not played and the match proceeded straight to penalties.
Paraguay played with 10 men after West Ham's Fabin Balbuena was sent off for a foul that was initially called a penalty, but was reversed after video review determined the foul happened outside the area.
"We have to be proud of the character shown by this team," Paraguay coach Eduardo Berizzo said. "We could have been rewarded with a wonderful and heroic triumph in the penalty shootout, but that doesn't take anything away from my players' great performance."
Brazil controlled possession, but struggled to create goalscoring opportunities against Paraguay's solid defensive system.
The visitors had one of the best chances of the first half when Gonzalez's close-range shot was saved by Alisson.
Brazil pressed after Balbuena was sent off, but couldn't capitalise on their many opportunities. Jesus, Coutinho, Everton and Firmino all missed great chances in front of the goal.
Fernandez made a great reflex save to keep out a close-range header by Alex Sandro near the end of the match, and in the 90th minute Fernandez could only watch as a low shot by Willian struck the post.
Brazil coach Tite said the pitch did not help Brazil. "It's absurd to have to play on a field where it's difficult to exchange passes," he said.
Despite reaching the semi-finals in 2015 and finishing second in 2011, Paraguay have won only one of their last 21 matches in the Copa America, taking advantage of penalty shootouts to advance.
Paraguay reached the last eight this year with only two points, finishing as one of the two best third-place teams from the three groups.
Eight-time South American champions Brazil have won the tournament all four previous times they have hosted the event, the last time in 1989.
Brazil's Neymar, dropped from the squad because of an ankle injury sustained just before the tournament, watched from the stands at the Arena Gremio.