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Luck wins over pluck

Paraguay beat Venezuela 5-3 in a penalty shootout to reach the final of the Copa America for the first time since 1979 after a fortunate goalless draw on Wednesday.

sports Updated: Jul 21, 2011 23:57 IST
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Paraguay-s-players-celebrate-after-their-teammate-Dario-Veron-scored-during-the-penalty-shootout-of-the-Copa-America-semifinal-soccer-match-against-Venezuela-in-Mendoza-Argentina-After-the-match-ended-0-0-in-extra-time-Paraguay-won-5-3-on-penalties

Paraguay beat Venezuela 5-3 in a penalty shootout to reach the final of the Copa America for the first time since 1979 after a fortunate goalless draw on Wednesday.

Paraguay defender Dario Veron scored the winning spot kick, blasting the ball past Renny Vega, to send his side into Sunday's final against Uruguay in Buenos Aires, but celebrations were marred by an ugly fight that broke out amongst the teams as they left the field.

The result was harsh on Venezuela, who will feel desperately unlucky they did not win the match before the shootout. They hit the woodwork three times and dominated against Paraguay, who had midfielder Jonathan Santana sent off in extra time.

The Paraguayans then took advantage of their good fortune to convert all five of their penalties in the shootout with their goalkeeper Justo Villar saving Franklin Lucena's weak effort to set up the win.

Lucky woodwork
The Paraguayans enjoyed the majority of possession in the first half but it was Venezuela who created the best chances. Towering defender Oswaldo Vizcarrondo looked to have put Venezuela ahead with a 35th minute header but his effort was ruled offside, and then Alejandro Moreno crashed a header against the Paraguayan crossbar just before the break.

Venezuela suddenly came alive in extra-time and hit the woodwork twice in three minutes - Giancarlo Maldonado's shot struck his team mate Nicolas Fedor and bounced back off the inside of Villar's right hand post and then Juan Arango's left-foot freekick hit the same post before being cleared.

Paraguay looked rattled and in the 103rd minute Santana was sent off for a second bookable offence.