Argentina's Tevez a national hero, again
Penalty hero earns remarkable redemption
- Argentina win penalty shoot-out 5-4
It wasn't the winning penalty that confirmed his resurrection. It was the celebration.
Carlos Tevez stepped to the left, a neat mishmash of Ali's shuffle and Grobbelaar's jelly legs, disguising the run and eventual direction of the decisive spot-kick.
Colombia's David Ospina, the colossal goalkeeper who had exhausted all superlatives with that ridiculous double save, was finally beaten. His gallant countrymen were going out of the tournament.
Tevez had side-footed Argentina into the Copa America semi-finals.
The substitute striker waited for the net to bulge, to confirm the 5-4 shoot-out victory yesterday morning (Singapore time) after the game ended goalless, and raced away to his left, ready to embrace the adulation.
The man of the moment, the temperamental terrier famed for his irascible outbursts, was about to get his ego tickled by thousands of delirious Argentinians.
But he checked his run towards the crowd. He turned and returned to Argentina's other hero. Tevez embraced goalkeeper Sergio Romero until they were buried beneath jubilant teammates.
When personal glory was his for the taking, Tevez shared the spotlight. It was no longer about him. He was the first among equals. The last of the demons had been vanquished.
There had been so many, for both club and country, but it felt the final one had dissipated with the winning penalty.
Four years ago, Tevez missed the decisive spot-kick in the Copa America quarter-final against Uruguay.
He was cast off into the international wilderness, a talented, but tortured soul whose positives no longer outweighed the irritating negatives.
Tevez didn't play again for his country for the next three-and-a-half years, missing a World Cup in Brazil, where Argentina certainly missed him.
In consecutive tournaments, the end product has remained elusive for the Albiceleste's illustrious attack.
The 11 shots mustered by half-time against Colombia impressed the statisticians almost as much as Ospina's saves dazzled the romantics, but the zero return on the scoreboard said much more to the realists.
And still, there was no place for Tevez, both in the starting line-up yesterday and in the squad during those wilderness years, despite his country's perennial goal-scoring struggles and the over-reliance on Lionel Messi.
Of course, the incorrigible scamp did himself no favours. The meltdown on the Manchester City bench cast him in the pantomime bogeyman role, a selfish brat to be jeered and booed at every opportunity.
His country had abandoned him and his English club couldn't wait to get rid of him. Tevez seemed just about done before his 30th birthday.
But the retirement plan in Turin somehow turned into a lengthy Indian Summer. The Italian club salvaged a career and a disillusioned artist rediscovered his childlike love for the game.
Tevez engineered an improbable run to the Champions League final, picking up a domestic double along the away. The big date in Berlin ended in defeat, but the road to redemption was just about complete.
There was a final crossroads to clear with his country.
He returned to favour under Argentina coach Gerardo Martino, who brought him back into the fold and offered the older, wiser Tevez a shot at salvation.
With Sergio Aguero, Gonzalo Higuain, Javier Pastore and Messi all ahead of Tevez in the pecking order, a Cinderella story was an unlikely outcome, but a colossal cameo was always a distinct possibility and it was delivered with typically understated authority.
Argentina had already improved after Tevez had replaced a fading Aguero and spurned enough chances to win the game in normal time.
Defensively, the Colombians had been impeccable, if overly physical, cautious and cynical. Even Tevez laboured against the seemingly bionic limbs of the omnipresent Jeison Murillo, with the centre-back picking the Copa America quarter-final to have the game of his life.
But Tevez would not be denied. His uplifting third act demanded an exhilarating epilogue.
Of course, the semi-final offers a chance for further twists, but the 31-year-old's dramatic renaissance is as entertaining as it is unexpected.
And with exquisite timing, his move to Boca Juniors - the club where he began his football journey in the previous century - was announced just as he helped his team into the semi-finals.
In every sense, Tevez is coming home.
"I didn’t put Tevez among the top five (of the penalty shoot-out) because the last time he shot, Argentina went out. We wanted to avoid that."
- Argentina coach Argentina coach Gerardo Martino
"In soccer there’s always a second chance. But tonight is not about me, it’s about my teammates."
- Carlos Tevez
Ospina stays humble despite wonder saves
WHAT A FEELING: Carlos Tevez (left) celebrating with goalkeeper Sergio Romero after scoring the winning spotkick (near right). PHOTOS: AFP, REUTERS
Arsenal are said to be ready to offload their No. 1 goalkeeper David Ospina to Fenerbahce, but his incredible performance against Argentina may give manager Arsene Wenger second thoughts.
The impending arrival of Chelsea's Petr Cech to the Emirates, as widely reported by the British press, is considered the catalyst for Ospina's (near left) departure to Turkey.
Then the Colombian goalkeeper pulled out a performance of a lifetime and showed Arsenal fans what they would be missing in the new season.
Against Argentina in the quarter-final of the Copa America yesterday morning (Singapore time), Ospina produced a string of fine saves to keep Lionel Messi and company at bay.
One of his remarkable stops included a double-save in the 25th minute when he dived to keep out a point-blank shot from Sergio Aguero with his legs and then got up to parry Messi's header from the rebound.
Although he could not stop Argentina from going through, Ospina kept his humility.
Speaking to Spanish newspaper AS afterwards, Ospina said: "I just always try to offer the best of myself for my country."
On the shoot-out loss, the 26-year-old added: "Penalties are always a lottery, the Argentinians took theirs well and today, and lamentably it was our turn to lose." - Wire Services.
Boca: Tevez return is fantastic
Carlos Tevez has completed his move from Juventus to Boca Juniors.
The Argentinian club announced the deal during Argentina's Copa America quarter-final penalty shoot-out victory over Colombia, in which Tevez scored the winning spot-kick.
The 31-year-old, who began his career at Boca as a teenager, will cut short his three-year contract with Juventus despite an outstanding last season in which he helped them win Serie A and the Italian Cup and reach the Champions League final, scoring 29 goals in all competitions..
"It is a day of joy and great satisfaction," Boca president Daniel Angelici told the club's official Facebook page. "The return of Carlos Tevez in an extraordinary moment of his career is fantastic news for all partners and supporters of Boca and Argentine football.
"The presence of Carlos will give another leap in quality to the great squad we have."- PA Sport.