David Ospina made two saves in the penalty shoot-out to lift Colombia past Uruguay and into the Copa America semi-finals on Saturday.
After both sides went scoreless in normal time, Los Cafeteros converted on all four of their penalties while veteran Ospina saved attempts from Jose Gimenez and Matias Vina.
That left Colombia to celebrate their triumph in a hard-fought, physical encounter in Brasilia after Los Cafeteros had struggled into the quarter-finals.
Uruguay entered the quarter-finals having won two games in a row, while Colombia had been defeated in their final two group-stage games.
After waiting 10 days since their last game, Colombia looked the more energetic side in the opening half, out-shooting Uruguay 4-1 but Fernando Muslera had little to do in the Uruguay net.
Luis Muriel fired wide on an open look just prior to half-time, minutes after sending a free kick from a dangerous spot over.
Colombia’s momentum carried over to the second half, as Luis Diaz drove straight to the Uruguay goal in the opening seconds but could not get a clear look.
Uruguay’s first dangerous chance came in the 50th minute, when Nahitan Nandez curled a ball in from the right side that caught Ospina off-balance, but the goalkeeper acrobatically tipped the ball away from the top corner.
Colombia came close in the 73rd minute as Rafael Borre’s cross from the right side found Duvan Zapata, but Muslera parried away the header from eight yards.
Both sides charged forward at every opportunity in the final 15 minutes but neither came close to scoring as Colombia kept Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani at bay throughout.
It was the fourth consecutive Copa America quarter-final for Colombia in which the game was scoreless in regulation.
What does it mean? More Copa frustration for Uruguay
After a sluggish start to the tournament, Uruguay were the in-form side entering the quarter-finals but were left with another disappointing exit.
Since winning the Copa America title in 2011, La Celeste have now failed to reach the semi-finals in four consecutive tournaments, leaving after the group stage in 2016 and falling in the quarter-finals in 2015, 2019 and 2021.
Ospina comes up huge on historic night
On the evening he earned his 112th cap to move past Carlos Valderrama as Colombia’s all-time leader, Ospina was brilliant in regulation before saving two penalties to seal the win.
It was sweet redemption after seeing Brazil score in the 10th minute of added time for a 2-1 win in Colombia’s final group-stage game.
Uruguay’s absent stars
Every goal scored by La Celeste in the group stage, with the exception of an own goal from Bolivia, came from Suarez or Cavani.
The pair have accounted for a combined 117 international goals in their storied careers but neither managed a decent chance against Colombia.
Colombia face Argentina in the semi-finals on Tuesday in Brasilia, while Uruguay rest up before returning to World Cup qualifiers in September.
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