SANTO DOMINGO (Dominican Republic): Argentina snatched a 2-1 victory with a dramatic 95th minute equaliser and a golden goal against Colombia. A piece of Brazilian magic finally broke down resilient Mexico in the 87th minute to secure a 1-0 victory.
The two South American rivals suffered right to the end, but now meet in the mens football final at the Pan American Games tomorrow. Their young players might not be household names yet, but its the final all neutrals were hoping for.
Colombia, playing their best football of the tournament, looked to have staged an upset after taking a 70th-minute lead in Tuesdays match through Abel Aguilar. But Argentinas Manuel Perrone, who had come on as a substitute 20 minutes earlier, sent a looping header over goalkeeper Hector Landazuri into the top corner right on the final whistle.
The game went into extra time and in the eighth minute Argentine striker Franco Cangele scored with a header from a cross by Walter Garcia to clinch a place in the final. Shortly before, the Colombians were reduced to 10 men after centreback Luis Gonzalez was sent off following two yellow cards.
Brazil, who had steamrolled their way to the semi-final with some typically scintillating play, looked uncomfortable at times against Mexico.
In the 66th minute, the Brazilians lost central defender Adailton with a red card.
With extra time just minutes away, though, Dagoberto latched onto a through ball from Diego Coelho and deftly flicked the ball over the Mexican goalkeeper before rolling it into the net to seal qualification.
Dagoberto then had to be carried off the field following celebrations in which teammates swamped him on the ground.
Colombia coach Reinaldo Rueda blamed referee Ricardo Valenzuela of the United States for his teams defeat because of the amount of extra time played. After Argentinas equaliser, the Colombian players had reacted furiously towards the referee.
He had no justification for that, Rueda said. As a result, my team lost its head, got distracted and ended up losing.
Argentina coach Manuel Tojo was in no mood to talk about anything but his teams courageous fightback.
I dont think anyone should take anything away from our victory, he said.
The tournament is for players under the age of 23. Argentina and Brazil have brought many players in the 18-20 range. AP