Brazil eliminated, Uruguay win on penalties, most fouls in Copa America 2024

If you were expecting a beautiful, fluid showdown between two South American giants, you picked the wrong game.

It was the dirtiest match of this year’s Copa America so far with 41 fouls, more than the 37 in Chile’s 0-0 draw with Peru on the second day. Uruguay’s Nahitan Nandez was also sent off for a swipe at Rodrygo and there were four more yellow cards on a turbulent night at Allegiant Stadium, Las Vegas.

After 90 minutes plus injury time of pushing, prodding and half chances, it went to penalties — and it was Marcelo Bielsa’s Uruguay who secured their place in the semi-finals against Colombia. Brazil go home.

Jack Lang and Thom Harris analyze the chaos…

What happened during the penalty shootout?

There was more pushing and shoving before the shoot-out began, with the ten Uruguayan men trying to make their presence known.

Eder Militao was first to act for Brazil, but his effort was saved by Sergio Rochet.

(Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images)

Uruguay converted the first three penalties before Douglas Luiz hit the post and Jose Maria Gimenez missed.

Ultimately, it was Manuel Ugarte who scored the decisive penalty for Uruguay, who won the penalty shootout 4-2.

Uruguay celebrate reaching the semi-finals (Ian Maule/Getty Images)

How did Uruguay stop Brazil?

Top footballers get used to being put under pressure by the opposition. If you have the ball, the others want it back. That is a law of nature.

Playing against a Bielsa team is a different story. His players don’t so much close people off as they harass them in groups of two, three, four. It looks awful to deal with, to be honest. It’s also one of the toughest exams you can take.

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Brazil had a very hard time here.

Alisson was often reduced to throwing the ball forward to no one in particular. When they tried to pass the ball from the back, the whole operation looked dangerous. Joao Gomes was rolled out of his pocket on a couple of occasions, but he was not the only one who failed the test. It was no coincidence that the Selecao’s best chances came from messy, confused patches of play; there was no sense that they were ever building attacks in an organised way.

Uruguay, Brazil

Uruguay disrupted Brazil’s rhythm (Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images)

After the break, Uruguay pulled back a bit. After all, it’s hard to maintain that level of intensity for 90 minutes. The problem for Brazil was that they still couldn’t show any convincing patterns of play. They looked like a team waiting for something to happen. Even when Uruguay were down to 10 men, there wasn’t really a sense that the Selecao were tightening the screws. It’s not the first time in this Copa America that they haven’t been fluent.

In a way, that’s forgivable. This is still a team in the making. Dorival Junior only took charge in March and things were worse before he showed up. He talks a lot about “following the steps.” There were, to be fair, positives to be had from the way Brazil repelled Uruguay’s energetic attack.

Yet this is Brazil. It’s one thing to lose on penalties to a good team, but there’s an expectation — self-imposed, certainly, but no less powerful — that they be protagonists, as Dorival well knows. Indeed, as the Selecao thrashed about, it was hard not to think back to Andreas Pereira’s provocative words on the eve of the match. “Uruguay dreams of having Brazil’s team,” he said.

Based on this evidence, that is not the case.

Jack Lang

What happened to Endrick?

The 17-year-old made his debut for Brazil as Vinicius Junior, who watched from the stands, was suspended after collecting yellow cards in the group stage.

Officially, Endrick was only fouled three times in the first 45 minutes. Anyone watching can tell you that statistic is… wrong.

Tournament football is unforgiving – the importance of winning has only increased on the international stage – so it’s no surprise that Uruguay opted to test the resolve of their inexperienced teenage striker from the outset. In a match like this – tense, testy and with everything on the line – any sign of weakness represents a potentially valuable way through.

It is a testament to his temperament, then, that Endrick did not commit a single foul in the second half. Brazil’s No. 9 bounced back from most of the pushes and shoves sent his way. And even when the referee’s whistle failed to come to his rescue — as it did after he was tackled by Federico Valverde in the 18th minute — he was quickly back on his feet, only to be taken down again. This time by Ronald Araujo, stealthily, mercilessly, with the ball far away.


Beyond the physical battle, Endrick didn’t have much to draw upon in a cautious but competitive match.

Much of the football was played in the middle of the third, Uruguay’s relentless man-to-man press leaving no Brazilian time on the ball in the attacking half. Endrick drifted from side to side, trying to show the ball, but when he got it he had a South American giant on his back, and preferred to grab a left-footed shot with six minutes left.

Thom Harris

Was Nandez’s red card justified?

In short, yes.

Despite all the quality on display, this was a very competitive match and the physicality got a little out of hand. There were 41 fouls in total (26 by Uruguay, 15 by Brazil) — the most in the tournament so far — and the referee was right to penalize many more hard knocks and pushes in the back.

Nandez is a prickly little man, the embodiment of what Uruguayans call “garra charrua,” their trademark never-give-up attitude. His aggression and desire to get in front of his man also embody the intent of Bielsa’s system, which sees him win the ball back as quickly and as close to the opposition goal as possible.

That he is even a right-back is a testament to his willingness to go above and beyond what is expected of him: he is a midfielder by profession. If you were being generous, you could call his tackle on Rodrygo a midfield duel. Either way, it was brutal and dangerous. The only surprise was that a VAR review was needed before the referee came to that conclusion, replacing the initial yellow card with a red.


Nandez tried to plead with referee Dario Herrera (Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images)

The freeze frame was devastating, studs in firm contact with Rodrygo’s standing leg. It marked Nandez’s 12th foul of the tournament — only Brazil’s Bruno Guimaraes has committed more.

Uruguay survived the match, but with Araujo forced off with an injury and Nandez suspended, they will go into the semi-final against two-year unbeaten Colombia without two of their mainstays in defence.

Thom Harris and Jack Lang

What did Dorival Junior say?

“There were positives from the games,” he said after the match. “Of course, after a game like this, all the good things are canceled out. I know that.

“We didn’t play at a great level technically, but we fought. We never stopped chasing results. We were brave. There are more positives than negatives to this campaign.

“It wasn’t a great day in terms of creativity. The defenses were better than the attacks.”

What did Marcelo Bielsa say?

“It was a game with few chances, very exciting and very tense,” he admitted.

“With one man down we had to defend deep, but in the second half we didn’t give away a single chance.”

What’s the next step for each team?

Uruguay will face Colombia in the semifinals on Wednesday, July 10 at 8:00 p.m. ET (Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC).

Brazil has been eliminated from the tournament.

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(Top photo: Getty Images)

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