The first quarter-final of Copa America 2015 ended in heartbreak for Uruguay as they crashed out to hosts Chile.
Chile started the game as you would expect in front of their own fans as Jorge Valdivia appeared to be carrying over his form from Chile’s 5-0 demolition of Bolivia, creating a chance early on for Eduardo Vargas who fired over the bar.
Uruguay came close through Carlos Sánchez as he attempted to curl the ball to the far corner, eventually spinning just wide of Claudio Bravo’s far post.
Chile’s football throughout the half was a joy to watch. A swift Chilean move, in which almost every player touched the ball, ended in Charles Áranguiz scuffing a shot straight to Fernando Muslera, but the signs of Chilean flair were clear.
The sides went in level at half-time in a fairly tight affair, but Chile were looking the more likely to open the scoring, with Sánchez and Valdivia the key men in all that was good about La Roja’s play.
Early in the second half Diego Rolan had a fantastic chance to give Uruguay the lead, but his poked effort was right at Bravo.
After just over an hour Edinson Cavani was bizarrely sent off for Uruguay, reducing them to ten men. Having already received a yellow for arguing with the linesman earlier in the game, he then saw another after a brush with Gonzalo Jara, on second viewing the reaction of Jara looked heavily exaggerated.
Carlos Sánchez again looked Uruguay’s most dangerous player volleying inches wide from 25 yards. Despite this half chance, Chile were extremely dominant in the final stages of the game as they pressed for a goal.
After 81 minutes that’s exactly what they got. Muslera’s punch from an initial cross was unconvincing, falling to the feet of Jorge Valdivia who controlled and laid off to former Queens Park Rangers man Mauricio Isla, with the full-back slamming home.
With minutes to go Uruguay were reduced to nine men. This time it was Jorge Fucile who saw a second yellow after flying in on Alexis Sánchez. It was a strong tackle in which Fucile did make clear contact with the ball, but the referee deemed it dangerous enough to warrant a second yellow.
The final moments went by with Vidal forcing a magnificent save from Muslera to prevent the game finishing 2-0, but Chile won’t care as they reach the semi-finals on home turf.
Chile: Bravo; Isla, Medel, Jara, Mena, Díaz (Fernández 71), Aránguiz, Vidal, Valdivia (Pizarro 85), Alexis Sánchez, Vargas (Pinilla 71)
Uruguay: Muslera; Pereira, Giménez, Godín, Fucile, Ríos, Á.González, C.Sánchez (J.Rodríguez 85), C.Rodríguez, Rolan (Hernández 58), Cavani
Booked: Valdivia, Cavani x2, Fucile x2, Isla, Pereira, Pinilla
Man of the Match: Jorge Valdivia. The Palmeiras midfielder has had a wonderful tournament up to now and was vital in Chile’s victory here. Finding gaps unseeable to the naked eye, Valdivia was in top form, setting up the goal and being substituted to a standing ovation.