Miguel Almiron sparkles against Brazil – Scores his penalty but late heartbreak
An eventful Copa America for Miguel Almiron.
Paraguay scoring three goals in their group games and the Newcastle forward involved in all three, including two assists.
Paraguay had led Qatar 2-0 and Argentina 1-0 but allowed both teams back in for draws, then managed to lose the final group game 1-0 to already qualified Colombia, despite them making 10 changes.
However, they were saved at the 11th hour when going through as the second best performing third placed team in a group, Japan and Equador playing out a final Group C game 1-1, where if either had won they would have qualified ahead of Miguel Almiron and Paraguay.
Thursday night (1.30am Friday in UK time) saw a fortunate Paraguay up against hosts and favourites Brazil in the Copa America quarter-finals.
They almost grasped the unexpected opportunity with both hands.
Miguel Almiron was arguably the best player on the pitch in the first half but neither side could make a breakthrough, then there was a major game-changer not long into the second half.
A penalty was given to Brazil for a challenge on the edge of the box but after a VAR intervention, a free-kick was given just outside the box. However, that then meant a red card for Balbuena in the 58th minute when everything eventually calmed down.
Brazil wasted the free-kick but it did mean that for over half an hour Paraguay had to play a man down.
Predictably Brazil dominated the final stages although Miguel Almiron did give his side a route out at times with his ability and pace to run with the ball.
The tournament rules meant no extra time to be played and instead the game went straight to penalties.
Gomez missed for Paraguay then Willian put Brazil one up, before Miguel Almiron equalised with a very cool effort (watch it below at 8.55).
(Go to 8.55 if you want to see Almiron’s penalty in the highlights below)
There was then two successes each until Liverpool’s Firmino put a horrific effort wide, only for Gonzalez to do the same for Paraguay.
Gabriel Jesus of Man City scoring the decisive one to give Brazil a nervous but eventual 4-3 win on penalties.
Their semi-final is on Tuesday (2 July) and they will meet either Salomon Rondon’s Venezuela or Lionel Messi’s Argentina who play each other later today.
A silver lining for Newcastle fans of course in that an early knockout for Paraguay should mean an earlier participation for Miguel Almiron in Newcastle’s pre-season preparations.
The NUFC squad are due back on Thursday (4 July) and it remains to be seen how long Miguel Almiron will need in terms of recovery time after the Copa America, before joining the rest of the Newcastle squad.
The end of the following week sees Newcastle flying off to China for the friendly tournament, playing Wolves on 17 July and then either Man City or West Ham. Obviously it would be helpful if Almiron was on that plane heading out to China in terms of pre-season preparation but exactly what shape NUFC are in by that point remains to be seen.
As it stands, Miguel Almiron will be returning to a scene of absolute chaos on Tyneside.
Only six weeks to go until the new season and no manager, the ownership issue up in the air, seemingly no chance of player of the year being kept at the club, whilst we are now past the halfway point in the transfer window without a single new player brought in.
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