SANTA FE, ARGENTINA // If a semi-final in last year's World Cup in South Africa last year was not enough, the Uruguayans came up with another sensational result on Saturday night, beating Argentina on penalties to eliminate the heavily favoured hosts.
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They can now start planning for a semi-final against Peru, another surprise package, tomorrow.
"This is one of the oldest classics in the world," Oscar Tabarez, their coach, said. "Historically, it's very hard for us to beat Argentina."
Spearheaded by their stars Diego Forlan and Luis Suarez, Uruguay are attempting to win the Copa America for the first time since 1995. Despite the victory over Argentina, Tabarez does not them as favourites against Peru.
"The teams will have equal responsibility," he said. "Peru is not just another team anymore, they will play even with us."
Peru, who drew 1-1 with Uruguay in the group stages, made the semi-finals after beating Colombia 2-0 after extra-time. Radamel Falcao had missed a penalty midway through the second half.
Uruguay's victory came in a tense match in which they played with a man down for nearly an entire half after Diego Perez was sent off in the 39th minute.
Javier Mascherano, the Argentina captain, was given a red card near the end of regulation to level the numbers.
"We have that fighting spirit in ourselves, and not just as Uruguayans, but in this team, specifically," Tabarez said. "It was the same way at the World Cup. We never had more ball possession than our rivals, but we generated more scoring opportunities."
Goalkeeper Fernando Muslera was the key man in frustrating a star-studded Argentina that included Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero, Gonzalo Higuain and Carlos Tevez, and made several difficult saves throughout the match.
"It has been a tremendous Copa for Fernando," Alvaro Pereira, the Uruguay midfielder, said. "Hopefully it will continue like this until the end."