Brazil battles back
World champs beat Argentina on penalties in Copa America final
Posted: Sunday July 25, 2004 3:48PM; Updated: Sunday July 25, 2004 10:16PM
LIMA, Peru (AP) -- Goalkeeper Julio Cesar blocked Andres D'Alessandro's shot and Gabriel Heinze missed over the crossbar as Brazil defeated Argentina 4-2 on penalties in the Copa America final on Sunday.
The archrivals played to a thrilling 2-2 draw in regulation in a near-capacity National Stadium.
Cesar, who also blocked a shot in the shootout against Uruguay in the semifinals, dove to his right to stop D'Alessandro's opening attempt for Argentina. Defender Heinze then missed the second shot.
However, Brazil made all of its penalty kicks, capped by defender Juan's for their seventh Copa title, and first against Argentina in the finals.
"We never thought it would be easy," Brazil coach Carlos Alberto Parreira said. "Argentina came with all these experienced players, but our team proved they are capable of overcoming any difficulties."
Adriano, Edu, Diego and Juan all scored for the world champions, while only Cristian Gonzalez and Juan Pablo Sorin netted for Argentina, which missed a grand chance to win a record 15th Copa title.
"There are things that can't be explained in soccer," Argentina midfielder Javier Zanetti said. "That's what happened against Brazil, we can't explain what went wrong."
Brazil had to equalize in injury time of each half, the last time in the third minute of second-half injury time by Adriano, the tournament's top scorer with seven goals.
"I can't explain how I'm feeling right now," Adriano said. "This is definitely the greatest moment in my career."
Argentina had only gone ahead in the 87th minute, when replacement striker Cesar Delgado's powerful shot appeared to have deservedly won it for the dominant Albiceleste.
Adriano's equalizer began a squabble between both teams on the field when Argentina players took exception to taunts from Brazil's bench. Referee Carlos Amarilla requested riot police to separate the sides and prepare for the shootout.
"They shouldn't have celebrated ahead of time," Parreira said of Argentina. "It's one thing to slow the game down, but you can get in trouble when you start fooling around with the ball before it's all over."
Argentina's patient craft allowed it to control possession and pin Brazil in its half for long stretches, but the Brazilians' explosive counterattacks helped rivet 40,000 spectators to their seats.
Midfielder Cristian Gonzalez had put Argentina ahead with a penalty in the 20th after Brazil defender Luisao brought down midfielder Luis Gonzalez. Luisao then made up for the penalty-kick foul when he headed in a free kick from playmaker Alex a minute into first-half injury time.
Luisao missed his team's celebrations. He was carried off in the 82nd minute bleeding from the nose following a clash of heads with Argentina captain Roberto Ayala, and immediately taken to hospital. Team doctors later said Luisao lost his memory but was conscious at the hospital and not seriously injured.
Brazil's third title in four Copas capped an unexpectedly successful campaign by a second-string side. Parreira rested his major stars and wanted to test new talent for World Cup qualifying. Only Kleberson of its 2002 World Cup champions was in Peru.
For Argentina, which hasn't won a major title anywhere in 11 years, the loss to Brazil's "B" team could be devastating. Its demanding fans had just begun to warm to the side and put behind the shocking first-round exit in 2002.
"We keep asking ourselves what we could have done differently to have avoided this kind of result," Argentina coach Marcelo Bielsa said. "Argentina always pressured and sought ways to win just as it did through the tourney. Unfortunately, what happened is what happened."
Argentina paced the match throughout. The back line gave Adriano little space, and Zanetti helped it dominate the midfield. The team forced four corners in the first 15 minutes and would finish the game taking 10 corners to Brazil's two.
After Luisao fouled Luis Gonzalez and Cristian Gonzalez (no relation) converted for his third penalty goal of the tournament, it only underlined Argentina's control.
Luis Gonzalez would have made it 2-0 six minutes later but his low drive from the top of the box was brilliantly parried by Cesar.
The threat posed by Brazil's individual talents finally came to fruition in injury time when Luisao ran onto Alex's free kick and headed it past paralyzed goalkeeper Roberto Abbondanzieri. The goal warned Argentina, the tournament's high-scorers with 16 goals in six games, to stop squandering its frequent chances.
But even after Brazil had replaced Kleberson, captain Alex and Luisao, and kept struggling to set up a score, Argentina took until almost time to score the go-ahead goal.
Sorin headed out of the box to an unmarked Delgado, and the Cruz Azul player rifled in what everyone thought was the title-winning goal, his first of the Copa.
But in injury time, a pass into the box was missed by Ayala and Fabiano and fell close to Adriano, who flicked it up with his left foot and smashed in the volley. He took off his jersey, earning an automatic yellow card, and kissed it while his teammates erupted in joy.
"I usually don't like to single out anybody, but Adriano was very important to this title," Parreira said.
It was the teams' first matchup since Brazil, then with its top stars, defeated Argentina 3-1 in a World Cup qualifier last month in Belo Horizonte.
Parreira was able to field his ideal starting lineup for the third consecutive match, while Bielsa welcomed the return of captain Ayala from a one-game ban.
Argentina disillusioned after loss
LIMA, Peru (AP) -- Argentina outplayed Brazil and deserved to win the Copa America but was unlucky in the closing minutes of South America's championship match, coach Marcelo Bielsa said on Sunday.
"There are teams that turn around a game deservedly," he said. "In this case, it was pure chance."
Brazil defeated Argentina in the Copa America final on Sunday, getting a 2-2 tying goal from Adriano three minutes into second-half injury time, then beating its archrival 4-2 on penalty kicks.
The loss proved a devastating blow to Bielsa and his squad, who came into the tournament as favorites with one of the competition's most experienced teams.
Bielsa had hoped to exorcise the ghosts from his team's 2002 World Cup flop, but instead was left struggling to make sense of a finals loss to a Brazil made up primarily of second-stringers.
"We keep asking ourselves what we could have done differently to have avoided this kind of result," said Bielsa. "Argentina always pressured and sought ways to win just as it did through the tourney. Unfortunately, what happened is what happened."
Moments after receiving the second-place medal in the post-game ceremony, Bielsa quickly took it off, walking briskly away and stuffing the medal in his pocket.
His players stood dumbfounded, some with tears welling in their eyes.
"I'm still trying to find some logic to it all," said midfielder Luis Gonzalez.
Brazil scored in the closing minutes of the first half and the match to send the game into a penalty shootout. Andres D'Alessandro and Gabriel Heinze both missed shots from the spot.
Bielsa, who unveiled a newly designed attacking style in the tournament, defended his offensive-minded scheme and his decision to add a defender to his back line against Brazil.
"The game left no doubt that Argentina can outplay its opponents even with a slight change in its system," he said.
But it remained to be seen how the loss would resonate in Buenos Aires, where months of negative fan reaction to Bielsa and the team had appeared to subside with its improved play in Peru.
Asked how fans back home would react, midfielder Javier Zanetti waxed philosophical: "Sometimes there are things that can't be explained in soccer. That's what happened against Brazil, we can't explain what went wrong."
Added goalkeeper Roberto Abbondanzieri: "Argentina deserved to win the title, but unfortunately luck was on their side."
Brazil 2 Argentina 2 - result. Copa America final.
Brazil win 4-2 on penalties
Brazil - Luisao 45+1, Adriano 90+3
Argentina - Cristian Gonzalez 20pen, Cesar Delgado 87
Halftime: 1-1; Attendance: 43,000
Note: Extra time is not played at the Copa America.
Brazil - 1-Julio Cesar; 13-Maicon, 3-Luisao (5-Cris 82), 4-Juan, 6-Gustavo Nery; 5-Renato, 8-Kleberson (19-Diego 54), 10-Alex (20-Felipe, 63), 11-Edu; 9-Luis Fabiano, 7-Adriano
Argentina - 1-Roberto Abbondanzieri; 22-Fabricio Coloccini, 2-Roberto Ayala, 6-Gabriel Heinze; 8-Javier
Zanetti, 5-Javier Mascherano, 3-Juan Pablo Sorin: 16-Luis Gonzalez (10-Andres D'Alessandro, 75); 21-Mauro Rosales (19-Cesar Delgado, 64), 11-Carlos Tevez (4-Facundo Quiroga, 90+2), 18-Cristian Gonzalez
Referee: Carlos Amarilla (Paraguay)
LIMA, Peru (AP) -- How the penalty shootout between Argentina and Brazil played out in the Copa America final on Sunday:
0-0 Argentina: Andres D'Alessandro shoots left and is blocked by Julio Cesar.
0-1 Brazil: Adriano scores to the left and leaves Roberto Abbondanzieri rooted to the middle.
0-1 Argentina: Gabriel Heinze kicks over the crossbar.
0-2 Brazil: Edu shoots right and scores.
1-2 Argentina: Cristian Gonzalez scores low to the right.
1-3 Brazil: Diego shoots into the left corner past Abbondanzieri.
2-3 Argentina: Juan Pablo Sorin slots the ball down the middle.
2-4 Brazil: Juan fires in the winner on the right with Abbondanzieri guessing the wrong way.