By COLE KELLOGG
Carlos Tevez, who will return to his old club Boca Juniors at the end of Copa America, was the man that struck home the vital match-winning penalty against Colombia on Friday night, as Argentina advanced to the semifinals of 2015 Copa America.
The winning team had the better of chances in 90 minutes of play, but the two sides played to a 0-0 draw in Vina del Mar and needed a 5-4 win on penalties to advance.
Both sides managed to convert its first three penalties, with Lionel Messi, Ezequial Garay, and Ever Banega firing home for Argentina. James Rodriguez, Radamel Falcao, and Juan Cuadrado found the back of the net for Colombia.
Next up was Luis Muriel of Colombia, and he became the first on the night to miss the frame.
Argentina’s Ezequiel Lavezzi and Colombia’s Edwin Cardona then converted, before four shots in a row didn’t find the back of the net. Lucas Biglia missed the frame while Marcos Rojo smashed the post for Argentina. Jeison Murillo missed, and Juan Zuniga’s shot was saved for Colombia.
David Ospina played out of his mind in Colombia’s goal to keep the Argentinians off the board, recording seven saves against the CONMEBOL giants.
The goalkeeper stood on his head in the first half, making two vital saves in quick succession to keep Sergio Aguero and Messi off of the board. The Manchester City striker put a low shot on frame after a cross from Javier Pastore, but Ospina’s kick-save kept the game scoreless. By the time Messi was in position to smash home a header off the rebound, Ospina was up and able to keep the four-time Ballon d’Or winner off the board.
In a change of pace for Colombia, Jackson Martinez made the start after his high-profile switch to Atletico Madrid. When the former Porto star failed to hit the back of the net, though, he made way for Falcao in Jose Pekerman’s side.
Tata Martino made some big changes of his own in the second half, trading out Pastore and Aguero for Sevilla’s Banega and the eventual match-winner Tevez.
Tevez has had quite a season for both club and country, which is saying a lot after he was left off of Argentina’s 2014 World Cup roster entirely. The former Juventus striker scored 20 goals and recorded seven assists this season, leading the Turin side to the Serie A title and an appearance in the Champions League final.
Argentina will play the winner of Saturday’s matchup between Brazil and Uruguay in the semifinals in Santiago on July 4.