Venezuela coach Cesar Farias was a downcast man as his team were beaten by a lucky Paraguay side who won 5-3 on penalties in their Copa America semi-final after a goalless draw which they had dominated.
Not only did the underdogs hit the woodwork three times but they also had a goal disallowed as two-time champions Paraguay moved into Sunday’s final against Uruguay.
Farias were left to rue misfortune
“I don’t want to take anything away from them but Paraguay were incredibly lucky,” he said. “But we go home with our heads held high. They chalked off a goal for us, we hit the woodwork three times and created more chances. We should have won but it didn’t work out for us. This is how things go with football and I cannot reproach my players.”
Venezuela were unbeaten throughout the tournament and the coach resisted the temptation to directly criticise referee Francisco Chacon, who should have dismissed rather than book Dario Veron for butting Giancarlo Maldonado in extra-time. It was Veron who would score the winning penalty kick.
Post-match fight mars semi-final
Tempers boiled over at the end of the match with a mass scuffle between both team’s benches but Farias absolved his side of any blame.
“We never look to provoke incidents,” he insisted and said his men deserved the utmost respect, while insisting the Paraguayans had started the contretemps.
Venezuela substitute Giancarlo Maldonado said he was sad to have come so close and missed out.
“We could have got so much further, we played good football but we didn’t get lucky,” he said.
Meanwhile, Paraguayan goal-keeper Justo Villar also conceded that fortune had favoured his side.
“It’s not that we’ve been practising penalties, we’ve been lucky,” said Villar, whose compatriots also knocked out Brazil in the same fashion in the quarter-finals. “Clearly we have to improve. Playing for another goal-less draw and waiting for the penalties would be too much.”
Published in The Express Tribune, July 22nd, 2011.
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