by Lewis Ambrose
Chile are through to the semi-finals of the Copa América after beating Uruguay 1-0 on a hot-tempered evening in Santiago.
The host nation advanced as Uruguay ended the game with just nine men on a controversial evening.
Arsenal’s Alexis Sánchez played the entire game but failed to make much of an impression as it was ultimately a goal from Mauricio Isla which saw host nation Chile advance.
Uruguay started the game strongly before retreating into the defensive shape that everyone had expected pre-match. A tight affair with few – if any – real chances, the Chilean side had most of the ball but couldn’t make it count.
The brilliance of Jorge Valdivia provided the most entertaining moments of the tie, but his industry was unmatched by that of his teammates as the Uruguayan defence stood firm.
The game took a twist with twenty minutes to go with some dirty provocation and horrendous theatrics from Gonzalo Jara earning Edinson Cavani a second yellow card.
It was doubtful Cavani would even play the game due to the arrest of his father back home in Uruguay, but the PSG forward remained in Chile with the national team only to be more of a hindrance than help during this quarter-final.
Uruguay remained solid despite their disadvantage until – with 10 minutes remaining – Chile finally struck.
Valdivia – who is arguably the player of the tournament so far – teed up Isla, who fired home from the edge of the box. Fernando Muslera stood no chance.
Chile went out of last summer’s World Cup to Brazil on penalties and would have been desperate not to meet the same fate in their own country.
A quiet and frustrated Alexis Sánchez didn’t do much all evening but he caused a huge outburst from the entire Uruguayan squad when he went down under a challenge from Jorge Fucile in the final minutes.
Looking to run down the clock, Alexis drew a challenge from Fucile when chasing the ball, which was won by the defender.
Alexis was caught by the challenge and went down, seeing Fucile booked for the second time in the night.
Another unjust red card for Uruguay on the night, they will feel hard done by as they now exit a competition they were the holders of.
Alexis’ path to the final is now much clearer.
In the semi-final Chile will face the winner of Thursday night’s game between Bolivia and Peru, with a final against one of Argentina, Colombia, Brazil or Paraguay on the cards.