Canada hold nerve in penalty shootout to set up Copa América semi-final with Argentina

Canada claimed a 4-3 penalty shootout win over Venezuela on Friday to reach the Copa América semi-finals for the first time after an absorbing contest finished 1-1.

With the teams all square after five attempts each, Wilker Ángel had his spot-kick saved by Maxime Crépeau in the shootout and Ismaël Koné buried the winning penalty to send Canada through.

“This is amazing, [we’ll play in] the semi-final of Copa América,” said Crépeau after the match. “I think everyone needs to realise the respect this country deserves and these footballers deserve. Everyone says: ‘OK, these Canadians’. Well, these Canadians are in the semi-finals.”

Canada will face defending champions Argentina in New Jersey on Tuesday for a chance to play in the 14 July final. The semi-final will be a rematch of the tournament’s opener, in which the defending champions Argentina claimed a 2-0 win.

Canada, who scored just one goal across their three group stage matches, began the match with uncharacteristic urgency and their pressure paid off in the 13th minute as Jacob Shaffelburg steered home a Jonathan David cross.

Jesse Marsch’s side wasted several chances to extend their lead in the first half, with Shaffelburg testing goalkeeper Rafael Romo from the edge of the area while David sent an effort wide of the post after finding himself through one-on-one.

Venezuela pressed for a goal and had more possession, but were largely limited to speculative crosses and shots from range, with their all-time leading goalscorer, Salomón Rondón, twice drawing saves from Crépeau.

Canada’s Cyle Larin fired over the bar from close range in the 52nd minute. Two minutes later, a rebound fell at the feet of Venezuela’s José Martínez in the penalty area at the other end, but his effort also went high.

Venezuela finally found the equaliser in the 64th minute through Rondón, who spotted Crépeau off his line and produced an audacious lob that sailed over the scrambling goalkeeper into the empty net. It was the former Everton and Newcastle United striker’s 44th goal for Venezuela.

Canada responded well to the equaliser and substitute Liam Millar had an effort from a tight angle saved in the 67th minute before Tani Oluwaseyi sent two shots over the crossbar in the span of four minutes, but neither side was able to find the winner before the match went to penalties.

The Guardian