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Tite criticises Gremio Arena pitch after Brazil’s shoot-out win over Paraguay

Paraguay saw West Ham defender Fabian Balbuena sent off.

Gabriel Jesus scored the winning penalty in the shoot-out (Ricardo Mazalan/AP)
Gabriel Jesus scored the winning penalty in the shoot-out (Ricardo Mazalan/AP)

Brazil coach Tite hit out at the “absurd” Gremio Arena pitch after his side beat 10-man Paraguay on penalties to reach the semi-finals of the Copa America.

The hosts failed to break down a determined Paraguay side, who had Fabian Balbuena sent off just before the hour mark following a Video Assistant Referee review into the West Ham defender’s clumsy challenge on Roberto Firmino.

Referee Roberto Tobar had initially pointed to the penalty spot, but the decision was reviewed. The foul was deemed to have been just outside the box, but still denying a goalscoring opportunity, so Balbuena was then shown a red card.

Brazil, though, were unable to make a breakthrough, as with 15 minutes left, Manchester City’s Gabriel Jesus missed from close range and Willian later struck the woodwork as the match ended goalless.

With extra time only set to be used if needed in the Copa America final, the tie went to penalties.

Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson Becker saved the first spot-kick from Gustavo Gomez, only for Liverpool forward Firmino to shoot wide.

Paraguay winger Derlis Gonzalez, though, also then failed to hit the target, which left Jesus to slot in the winning penalty, as Brazil progressed 4-3 in the shoot-out.

While the end result was the one the expectant home crowd had wanted, Brazil coach Tite was still left less than impressed by the quality of the playing surface which he felt had hampered his side’s approach.

“All the team asked me to complain about it. It’s absurd at such a high-level match to have a ground on which it is so hard to pass the ball,” Tite told a press conference.

“We needed three touches to pass the ball forward. It’s absurd to have such bad quality.

“It’s inconceivable anywhere in the world to have such a bad ground.”

Brazil will go on to face either Argentina and Venezuela in Belo Horizonte for a place in the final.

Goalkeeper Alisson had started his career in Porto Alegre with Sport Club Internacional, and it was an emotional evening for the Liverpool number one.

“For me it was special for being in my city, I felt the affection of all the fans,” he said, quoted on the Brazilian Football Confederation website.

“My team-mates also did their part, which was the most important.

“Today’s result was a draw, but we were against a team which did not want to play.

“Now we must continue working because one step has already gone and we have another ahead, to achieve our main objective, which is to be champion.”

Paraguay coach Eduardo Berizzo felt his team – who edged into the quarter-finals as one of the best-placed third sides having drawn with Argentina in their Group B match – had acquitted themselves well.

“I’m very proud of our performance,” he said at a press conference.

“We could have been granted a heroic victory on penalties, but that doesn’t take away from how pleased I am with my players.

“We must continue working to transform ourselves into a tough and dangerous team.”

PA

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