Luis Suarez has enjoyed an illustrious career playing at the highest level on the world stage and at club level. You’d back him all day long when he steps up to take a penalty — scoring from 12 yards couldn’t be too testing for the Barcelona ace, could it? On the training ground, maybe, but, say in the crucial penalty shoot-out of Copa America quarter-final he surely wouldn’t miss, right?
The nation of Uruguay wishes this was the case. Sadly, for them anyway, it isn’t. Because of all the big names in the Uruguay side it was the former Liverpool striker Suarez who failed to convert from the spot when he was asked to do so in a bid to help his country overcome the challenge of Peru.
It couldn’t have been easy for Suarez to contemplate what had just unfolded as he sits with his head in his hands in the dressing room of the stadium in Salvador, Brazil. After all, as well as blowing the penalty chance, he had seen a goal ruled out for offside in normal time before missing the first penalty of the shootout. He wasn’t the only big star to see a goal cancelled out by the officials. PSG attacker Edinson Cavani also had a strike chalked off as 15-time winners Uruguay bowed out of the competition.
Victorious Peru now go onto face Chile in the second semi-final on 4 July, after hosts Brazil go head to head with Argentina the night before in what is a mouth-watering prospect. The Samba kings advanced thanks to a 4-3 quarter-final penalty shoot-out triumph over Paraguay, while Argentina took the next step with a 2-0 win over Venezuela.
Argentina skipper Lionel Messi has acknowledged that he is not enjoying his best form in the Copa America but he is prepared to take the victory and move on. He said:
“It is not my best Copa America, I am not having the one I had hoped. The important thing is that we won.”
Forward Lautaro Martinez hit the target for the second game on the spin to put Argentina ahead in the 10th minute before substitute Giovani Lo Celso struck the all-important second goal in the 74th minute. And Messi, who has only scored once at this tournament, was as diplomatic as he could be when asked to elaborate on how the opponents went about their game plan of stifling the match and looking for the counter-attack.
The Barcelona genius added:
“We controlled the game from the beginning, the first goal came and from there we became ourselves. In the second half, we knew they were going to move forward and leave spaces. We were firm throughout the game, it was a complete game.”