By Mosope Ominiyi

After our match report on the Chile v Uruguay match, let’s take a more in-depth look at Alexis’ individual performance.

As the tournament’s knockout rounds began on Wednesday night, each match was a must-win game for the respective nations involved.

No-one wanted to go home early, especially not the hosts Chile, who were eager to banish their hoodoo and win their first Copa América tournament in their illustrious history.

Alexis Sánchez, who was unlucky not to have more than just the one goal during the tournament for his efforts thus far, was looked to as another effective attacking outlet for La Roja to link-up their counter attacking play with.

They did this to devastating effect against Bolivia in their final group game, and without the key figure of Barcelona forward Luis Súarez – who was still suspended for his actions during the World Cup controversy last summer – Uruguay were always going to be seen as second favourites to prevail.


Onto the match itself, and it was an end-to-end, feisty affair filled with crunching tackles and beautiful one-touch football for all to enjoy. From the get-go, it was obvious that the Chileans would look to dominate possession and dictate the shape of the game.

Uruguay struggled to quell their threat through midfield, and Juventus’ midfielder Arturo Vidal was a handful to deal with on his own, let alone their other talented players. Charles Aránguiz, who has been recently linked with a Premier League move to both Arsenal and Manchester City, looked silky on the ball and was eager to slot a team-mate through on-goal, orchestrating alongside Jorge Valdivia in what proved to be a deadly trio.

Sánchez was not heavily involved early on, and had to do a lot of work off-the-ball in the first-half to get himself a few neat touches. To be fair to the 26-year-old, he did well to create a few half-chances out of seemingly nothing, as his crossing ability was emphasised with a teasing delivery which floated into the box for a team-mate to strike home, but was eventually dealt with by the Uruguayan backline.

His first real goal-scoring opportunity flashed wide of the side netting, as he sped past his marker within a flash and looked to latch onto a cross in the box. However, his resulting effort was ambitious, and from an awkward angle – so he was not exactly expected to score from there.

Outstanding work rate

Sánchez’s never-say-die attitude was on-show in flashes, as he was tenacious to win possession from the opposing players, especially when he looked likely to lose the ball or was being threatened by challenges. He did well to weave past the majority of tackles that were flying in, but won a few free-kicks after enticing the Uruguayans towards him.

His tricky footwork is a nightmare for defenders to deal with, and instead of focusing on goalmouth opportunities, he adapted his game to suit the needs of his team-mates, which was simply to take the lead and make their dominance count.

As the half-time whistle blew, questions were asked as to whether Vidal would be able to continue. A nasty-looking sliding challenge, which Arturo was on the receiving end of, saw his knee buckle across the turf, and he was limping off the pitch having had some treatment with the physio.

However, straight after the second-half began, Vidal was back in the swing of things despite looking slightly uncomfortable, with a robust challenge on him testing whether or not he’d be fit enough to continue. Just highlighting how integral players like Arturo and Alexis are to La Roja, they were needed if the host nation were to power their way through into the next round of the competition.


Edinson Cavani, who has been heavily criticised for lacklustre displays with Paris Saint-Germain after his big money move two seasons ago, was not short of controversy and headlines once more. Having already been booked for arguing with the fourth official on the far side as a decision went against him, he fell into the trap of being provoked by Gonzalo Jara – who over-reacted and ultimately got the striker sent off.

Harsh, maybe. Regardless, when you are already on a card, you do not react like that – especially in a match of such magnitude. It meant that if the Uruguayan’s managed to progress into the semis, he would not feature at all, and if they’d lost, he’d probably be made a scapegoat for their failures as they were suffering a one-man advantage for the last twenty-five minutes.

Sánchez was narrowly close to seeing an effort of his own testing the goalkeeper after some brilliant work on the edge of the area, but he tried to take on too much at once, skipping past defenders with relative ease inside the box before he was forced out wide to try and keep possession and control of the ball itself.

Vidal came close on a number of occasions towards goal, but Fernando Muslera was equal to his efforts. But, with just ten minutes left to play, Uruguay’s resistance was finally broken and the Galatasaray ‘keeper was finally beaten. Valdivia unselfishly squared the ball to his feet after a limp attempt at a clearance, and Mauricio Isla, formerly of Juventus and Queen’s Park Rangers, smashed a low drive into the bottom corner of the net.

Time was running out, and Uruguay suddenly needed to do something to level the scoring and send the match to a penalty shoot-out. No extra time, if the scores were equal, it’d be settled by a straight shoot-out, which neither team or respective manager wanted, no doubt.

Having come agonisingly close to sending last summer’s holders, Brazil, out of the World Cup – but to be denied by the woodwork in a penalty shoot-out, Chile did well to hold on, and seal their place in the semi-finals.

It was not without yet more controversy and fierce challenges, this time as the referee gave Jorge Fucile his second booking, and a red card after a hefty sliding charge on Sánchez near the touchline. The replays showed that although he did win the ball, the follow-through on the Arsenal man was reckless and potentially dangerous. Uruguay players were visibly upset and angry, feeling hard done by – they felt they were being cheated out of the contest, but they were second best in truth.

Arsenal supporters will be hoping Sánchez can fire Chile to glory, with a semi-final clash against either Bolivia or Peru up next. However, he’s been on the receiving end of some rather robust, harsh and reckless challenges throughout the tournament thus far – so they’ll be watching and wincing every time an opposing player goes in to tackle him. Despite not getting on the scoresheet, he did not do his reputation any harm with a solid display overall, and he’ll be hoping to weave his tricky magic: which we all know he can produce.