The Canadian men’s national team made history as they took down Venezuela in penalties, moving into the semi-finals of the Copa América.

The scrappy match will be remembered as one of the most entertaining matches of the tournament, complete with great goals at either end, missed chances for many more and questionable calls from the referee.

Canada head coach Jesse Marsch started the same starting XI that took the pitch as in the match against Chile. Richie Laryea was effective in his first start of the Copa América, drawing two yellows from Gabriel Suazo, which helped Canada immensely.

Jacob Shaffelburg has shown strength and versatility in coming off the bench. His first start against Chile was well-deserved, and he kept the start for this one.

The big question was up front for Canada. Canada has scored only one goal in the tournament, an attractive piece from Jonathan David.

But Canada could not settle for a draw at this stage. Marsch’s reliance on a striking pair that simply has not fired in the Copa América was a point of debate heading into this match.

The opening 10 minutes was good for Canada. They dominated possession and were good at moving the ball side-to-side to stretch out Venezuela.

Canada had a couple of early moments that forced the referee into decisions. Shaffelburg was brought down at the edge of the 18-yard box, but there was no call. Questions of a handball came a few minutes later as Larin got beyond Venezuelan’s goalkeeper, Rafael Romo. But again, it was not enough for the referee.

But the continued pressure eventually paid off. David drove into the 18-yard box from the right, pushing into the centre. He played the short, quick pass to Shaffelburg who was coming in from the opposite side.

The winger got in front of his defender, enough to get a toe on the ball and direct it beyond the reaches of Romo to put Canada up in the 13th minute.

Shaffelburg was close to adding another in the 24th minute. Laryea’s cutback found the winger at the edge of the 18-yard box who drilled it low. Romo dove down to his left to get a hand on it, only able to parry it away.

A couple of minutes later, Shaffelburg was almost able to return David’s gift. The striker got the ball from the pacy Shaffelburg, but Romo was able to get out and cut down the angle of the shot as it sailed just wide of the post.

Canada started the second half sitting further back and absorbing the pressure of Venezuela. Canada still had chances though, including an easy one for Larin that he sent over the net.

Venezuela found the equalizer in the 64th minute. Salomon Rondon lobbed a ball over Bombito and Maxime Crépeau from the halfway line, catching the Canadian goalkeeper out of his net. The ball sailed over both and into the net.

There were questions over whether the play should have been allowed as the preceding sequence had seen Romo attempt to knock the ball out of Larin’s hands who was throwing it in.

Neither side could break the deadlock, so this one went to penalties.

After five shots aside, both Canada and Venezuela had three goals. Both Romo and Crépeau saved one shot each.

In the sixth round, Wilker Angel had his shot saved by Crépeau. The Canadian goalkeeper had little reaction as he emphatically palmed the ball away.

Ismaël Koné, a late-game substitute, took the final shot. Well-placed and defiant, the midfielder sent Romo the wrong way as he sent Canada into the semi-finals and a renewed date with Argentina.

Up next

Canada already knows its opponent for the next round. Argentina topped Group A, which included Canada. The two nations opened the Copa América with the first match, a 2-0 win for the World Cup holders.

That match is on Tuesday, July 9. Kickoff is at 5 p.m.