Brazil out, Uruguay wins on penalties, most fouls at 2024 Copa America


If you were expecting a beautiful, freewheeling contest between two South American giants, you've picked the wrong sport.

It was the dirtiest match so far at this year's Copa America with 41 fouls, surpassing the 37 fouls in Chile's 0-0 draw with Peru the other day. Uruguay's Nahitan Nandez was also sent off for attacking Rodrigo and was given four more yellow cards on a tumultuous evening at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.

After more than 90 minutes of tussle, jostling and half-chances, it came down to a penalty shootout – and Marcelo Bielsa's Uruguay booked their place in the semi-final against Colombia. Brazil are going home.

Jack Lang and Thom Harris analyze the chaos…


What happened in the penalty shootout?

There was more pushing and shoving before the shootout began, with Uruguay's 10 players trying to make their presence felt.

Eder Militao had the first attempt for Brazil, but his effort was parried by Sergio Rochet.

Militao Brazil scaled


(FREDERICK J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)

Uruguay converted its first three spot kicks, before Douglas Luiz hit the post and then José María Gimenez missed.

Manuel Ugarte eventually scored the decisive penalty for Uruguay, helping the team win the shootout 4–2.

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Uruguay celebrate reaching the semi-finals (Ian Maule/Getty Images)

How did Uruguay stop Brazil?

Top-level footballers are used to being pressured by the opposition. When you have the ball, the other side wants to get it back. It's the law of nature.

However, playing against Bielsa's team is a completely different thing. His players don't bother people so much as they bother them in groups of two, three, four. To be honest, it feels horrible to deal with. It's one of the toughest tests you can face.

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Brazil had to struggle a lot here.

Alisson was often forced to throw the ball over the top, to no one in particular. When they did try to pass the ball out from the back, the whole operation seemed fraught with danger. Joao Gomes was picked in the pocket several times, but he wasn't the only player to fail the test. It was no coincidence that the Seleção's best chances came from chaotic, confused stretches of play; there was never any sense that they were attacking in any organised way.

Uruguay, Brazil


Uruguay upset Brazil's rhythm (Robin Beck/AFP via Getty Images)

Uruguay came back a little after the break. After all, it's hard to maintain that level of intensity for 90 minutes. What was troubling for Brazil was that they still couldn't find any solid pattern of play. They looked like a team waiting for something to happen. Even when Uruguay were down to 10 men, it never looked like the Seleção had started to tighten the screws. Nor is it the first time in this Copa America that they have lacked flow.

In a way, that's forgivable. This is still a team under construction. Dorival Junior only took over in March and things were even worse before he arrived. He talks a lot about “following in the footsteps”. To be fair, there are positives to be taken from the way Brazil thwarted Uruguay's energetic attack.

Still, this is Brazil. It's one thing to lose on penalties to a good team, but there's also an expectation – self-imposed, sure, but no less powerful – that they become the heroes, as Dorival knows well. Indeed, when the Seleção pressed hard, it was hard to remember Andreas Parreira's stirring words on the eve of the game. “Uruguay's dream is to make Brazil's team,” he said.

On this evidence, they do not.

Jack Lang


What happened to Andrik?

The 17-year-old was playing for Brazil for the first time as Vinicius Junior, who was sitting in the stands, was suspended after receiving a yellow card in the group stage.

Officially, Andric was fouled just three times in the opening 45 minutes. Anyone who watches this can tell you that this stat is… wrong.

Tournament football is ruthless — the importance of winning only increases on the international stage — so it's no surprise that Uruguay decided to test the resolve of the inexperienced teenage striker from the start. In a game like this — tense, nerve-wracking and with everything at stake — any sign of weakness represents a potentially precious way out.

It is a testament to his temperament that Andric was not fouled in the second half. The Brazilian No.9 bounced back from most of the bumps and blows that came his way. And even when the referee's whistle did not come to his rescue – as it did not after he was tackled by Federico Valverde in the 18th minute – he still got to his feet quickly, only to be knocked down again. This time Ronald Araujo sneaked up, brutally, and knocked him down even though the ball was far away.

Andrik

Away from the physical battles, Andric hasn’t had to do too much to get the job done in a cautious but competitive game.

The majority of the football was played in the middle third, with Uruguay's constant man-to-man pressure giving none of the Brazilians any time on the ball in the attacking half. Andric scurried around trying to get hold of the ball, but whenever he got the ball, he had a South American veteran on his back, and he snatched it away with a left-footed shot with six minutes remaining.

endrick uruguay 0

Thom Harris


Was Nandez justified in giving a red card?

In short, yes.

Despite the quality of play, it was a very competitive game, and the physicality got a little out of hand. There were 41 fouls in total (26 from Uruguay, 15 from Brazil) – the most of the tournament so far – and the referee was right to penalise a lot of hard hitting and back shoving throughout the game.

Nandez is a bubbly little customer who embodies what Uruguayans call 'garra charrua', their trademark never-say-die attitude. His aggression and willingness to get past his man also reflects the intent of Bielsa's system, which seeks to win the ball back as quickly and as close to the opposition goal as possible.

That he is also playing at right-back is proof of his willingness to go forward: he is, by profession, a midfielder. If you are being generous, you could call his tackle on Rodrigo a midfielder's challenge. Either way, it was clumsy and dangerous. The only surprise was that the referee needed a VAR review to reach that conclusion, replacing the initial yellow card with a red one.

Uruguay


Nandez tried to plead with referee Dario Herrera (ROBIN BECK/AFP via Getty Images)

The still image was horrifying, the studs making firm contact with Rodrygo's standing leg. It was Nandes' 12th foul of the tournament – only Brazil's Bruno Guimaraes has more.

Uruguay survived, but with Araujo injured and Nandez suspended, they will go into the semi-finals against Colombia, unbeaten for two years, without two of their defensive pillars.

Thom Harris and Jack Lang


What did Dorival Jr. say?

“There were positives in this match,” he said after the match. “Obviously, after a match like this, all good things come to an end. I am aware of that.

“We didn't perform very well technically, but we fought. We never stopped getting results. We were brave. There is more positive than negative in this campaign.

“It wasn't a great day in terms of creativity. The defence was better than the attack.”


What did Marcelo Bielsa say?

“It was a very tough game, with very few chances, very controversial,” he admitted.

“Being one man short we had to defend deep but we didn't concede any chances in the second half.”


What's next for each team?

Uruguay will face Colombia in the semifinals on Wednesday, July 10 at 8:00 p.m. ET (Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC)

Brazil is eliminated from the tournament.


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(Top photo: Getty Images)


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