A dull first semi-final between Chile and Portugal had a rather dramatic end, as both teams locked at 0-0 entered the penalty shootout which saw Claudio Bravo emerge as Chile’s hero, after he saved three spot-kicks from Ricardo Quaresma, Joao Moutinho, and Nani.
Both teams were off to a tremendous start, with Chile coming close to scoring just after six minutes after Alexis Sanchez fed a brilliant pass to Eduardo Vargas, who found himself in a one-on-one position right in front of goal, but only to be denied by Portugal goalkeeper, Rui Patricio.
Portugal responded immediately, as Cristiano Ronaldo and Andre Silva teamed-up to make arguably their best opportunity of the game as the Portugal captain steered a pass towards the back-post to Silva, who was denied by some excellent goalkeeping from Claudio Bravo.
Charles Aranguiz’s narrowly wide header just before the half-hour mark could have been Chile’s moment, but the towering header couldn’t find the back of the net. And a howling miss on the half-volley from Aranguiz yet again was the only moment when either side came close to troubling the scoreline as the first half ended 0-0.
The second half too saw some action right at the beginning, when Jean Beausejour’s pinpoint cross to Arturo Vidal was headed above the crossbar, and Vargas’ stunning overhead kick was saved by Patricio. Vidal had a blistering strike from distance which flew just inches over the top left corner 61 minutes into the game.
Ronaldo too blasted his long range free-kick into the stands in the 65th minute, and saw a deflected shot drop two yards wide as the game progressed to extra-time.
The two sides, who were playing their fourth match in just 10 days, looked extremely tired as the extra 30 minutes began. Chile once again came close to scoring with Sanchez, but the Arsenal man squandered the free header which appeared to be heading into the bottom corner.
Just 7 minutes into the second period, Chile were denied a penalty when Jose Fonte tripped substitute Francisco Silva in the box.
However, an even more frustrating series of events were faced by the Chileans in the dying moments, when a thunderous Vidal strike bounced back off the right-hand post into Rodriguez’s feet, who too hit the crossbar before Patricio gathered the ball, forcing the match into a penalty shoot-out.
Identical efforts from Quaresma and Moutinho, as well as Nani’s stuttered spot-kick were all saved by the Manchester City goalkeeper.
Cristiano Ronaldo, who was expected to take the 5th penalty, did not even get a chance from the spot to salvage something for his team, as Vidal, Aranguiz, and Alexis fired passed Rui Patricio to send Chile into the showpiece fixture which is to be taken place in St Petersburg on Sunday, where they will face the winner of Thursday’s second semifinal between Germany and Mexico.
Written by Sidharth Jindal
Sports fanatic with a passion for writing (predominantly football) and “Wants to live life to its fullest.” Writes about the Premier League on his personal blog.