Carlos Tevez
Carlos Tevez celebrates with goalkeeper Sergio Romero after scoring Argentina's winning penalty against Colombia. Reuters

Four years on from his penalty miss that cost Argentina victory in the quarterfinals, Carlos Tevez scored the winning spot kick to send his country through to the semifinals after a tension-filled win over Colombia. After a goalless 90 minutes dominated by Argentina, victory continued to elude the pre-tournament favorites when first Lucas Biglia and then Marcos Rojo failed to convert in the penalty shootout with victory awaiting. But in a shootout as dramatic as the action that preceded it, Tevez was the man to finally hit the decisive effort and earn the ultimate redemption on the night it was officially announced that he is to return to his first club and first love Boca Juniors.

Argentina’s attacking riches, which meant Tevez again started the match on the bench, had failed to be reflected in the team’s performances through the group stage. But Tata Martino’s side threatened right from the start against a Colombia team that snuck through to the last eight having finished third in their group. For much of the contest it appeared just a matter of time before Argentina would get the breakthrough in Viña del Mar, only for a combination of denied penalties and brilliance from Colombia goalkeeper David Ospina to continue to frustrate Lionel Messi and Co.

Both Sergio Agüero and Nicolas Otamendi were unlucky not to be awarded spot-kicks, before Ospina pulled off a sensational double save, first from Agüero and then, after rapidly getting to his feet, from Messi’s header. Colombia coach, and former Argentina coach, José Pékermann, missing midfielders Carlos Sánchez and Edwin Valencia to suspension, had made a big decision to leave out the misfiring Radamel Falcao. But he showed his concern with his team’s performance by withdrawing Teófilo Gutiérrez and replacing him with Andrés Cardona after just 24 minutes.

It wasn’t until midway through the second half that Colombia mounted some pressure, but last year’s World Cup quarterfinalists couldn’t take advantage. And the 90 minutes ended with Argentina again somehow failing to get a decisive goal. The most incredible near-miss came courtesy of Otamendi, whose effort off a corner was somehow turned onto the post by the diving Ospina before the ball rolled along the goal line but not over. There was a desperate clearance off the line, too, by Jeison Murillo, and as the final whistle blew to signal a penalty shootout Argentina could have been forgiven for thinking that it simply wasn’t going to be their day.

They had more reason for such fatalistic thinking as the shootout unfolded. After the first six penalties were expertly converted came a miss from Luis Muriel and Romero's save from Juan Zúñiga, only for Argentina to fail to take claim of a victory. But, after Murillo struck his penalty into orbit, Tevez faced up to his demons and found the net to send Argentina through to a semifinal against either Brazil or Paraguay as they seek their first title since 1993.