Ralph Hannah –
Colombia vs Chile – A courageous clash between the defending champions and best team of the group stages was decided by a penalty shootout following a goalless draw.
Colombia vs Chile Goals: 0-0 (4-5 Penalties)
Chile kept up their almost flawless run from 12 yards in this tournament, scoring all five spot kicks to advance. All-time top scorer Alexis Sánchez tucked away the final penalty after Tesillo had erred his effort to win their third shootout in a row. They’ve missed just 1 of 14 attempts (Vidal in 2016) since 2015 final.
Chile arrived late to the game, kickoff was delayed by 20 minutes after the team bus hit rush hour traffic in Sao Paulo, but they were first to almost every ball in a pulsating contest.
As expected the game started at a high pace and incredible intensity as both sides tried to assert themselves, Roger Martinez was particularly lively and had a shot charged down after 6 minutes. Moments later Charles Aranguiz was booked by Pitana for a snapping challenge, a theme that would continue all night as La Roja harried their opponents constantly. Almost immediately he was surrounded by a red sea as players protested to the Argentinian – the Chilean old guard surely wary that a card-happy official could ruin their game plan.
After the early flurry from the Cafeteros, it was Chile that had the best of the game, on 12 minutes Ospina produced a great reflex save from a Vargas header. The play was later called back for offside by VAR. Minutes later and Charles Aranguiz went one better, turning the ball into the net after a mix up between Ospina and Davison Sánchez.
Again VAR intervened as it confirmed Alexis had been millimetres in front of the last man when he collected a cracking pass from Arturo Vidal. The Barcelona midfielder was immense tonight, he bit at ankles, moved the ball expertly and conducted the game at his rhythm – going quick when it suited the defending champions, slowing things down when needed. By the second half, he was something of a time lord, every time he had the ball Colombia seemed to back off instinctively worried he would make a killer pass – that would create space for him to decide the next move.
Vidal was ably aided in the middle by Erick Pulgar, and the much-feted midfield of Barrios and Uribe hardly saw the ball. Carlos Queiroz saw his team get pushed back too far, Cuadrado often in uncomfortable positions tracking back. For a brief moment early in the second half, the Juventus midfielder managed to get in wide positions going forward and combine with James Rodriguez – but they could only muster two shots off target in the second half.
In the normal time, it was Chile who threatened more, Vidal swept a left-foot shot past Ospina after Alexis’ initial attempt had been blocked. The goal was eventually annulled by VAR because that block had been by Maripán’s arm. The quality of play began to drop in the latter stages, the scorching pace had created tired legs, and fouls became a way to gain some respite. Eduardo Vargas had been crowded out by the excellent Sánchez-Mina most of the game but found himself with a free header that he couldn’t make it count.
Queiroz waited until the 77thminute to bring on Duvan Zapata for Radamel Falcao who had hardly seen the ball. The Atlanta striker didn’t have enough time to make an impact on the game, and ultimately his contribution was to inexplicably not volunteer for a penalty despite scoring 23 goals in 32 Serie A starts. It meant that the fifth kick was left to defender Tesillo who has scored just ten senior goals in over 300 professional games. His awful attempt, well wide of Arias’ goal, meant that Colombia became just the second side since Argentina in 1924 to be eliminated from the Copa America without conceding.
The Colombians can take heart from the group stages, and that they were beaten today by a very wily rival with a wealth of experience, they should be confident of qualification for the next World Cup. For Chile the dream of becoming just the second side to win three consecutive Copas remains alive, they await the winner of Uruguay and Peru for a showdown in Porto Alegre.
Colombia vs Chile – Match Report
Ospina – Medina, Mina, Sánchez, Tesillo – Uribe, Barrios, Cuadrado – Rodriguez, Martinez – Falcao
Arias – Isla, Maripan, Medel, Beausejour – Vidal, Pulgar, Aranguiz – Sánchez, Vargas, Fuenzalida
Ralph Hannah is Londoner, who has lived in Luque and is now located in Miami, with a keen interest in Paraguayan football history and statistics. A frequent traveler throughout Latin America he attends games throughout the region and has written for a variety of publications and set up the first English-language blog on Paraguayan Football. When not in the Defensores del Chaco he’s looking after his 2 daughters. Follow Ralph on Twitter @paraguayralph.