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Isla’s wonder strike was enough to see Chile through to the semis

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The Ex- Queens Park Rangers man, Mauricio Isla, fired Chile into the lead with a wonder strike 10 minutes from time which turned out to be the game winner as he set up a clash with either Bolivia or Peru in the last four of the Copa America.

Isla’s 80th minute strike was enough to see off nine-man Uruguay at the Estadio Nacional. The win pushed them through to the semi-finals of the Copa America.

The full-back drove his shot low into the corner to settle an ill-tempered encounter which saw both Edinson Cavani and Jorge Fucile dismissed in the second half.

No team has won more Copa America titles more than Uruguay’s 15 wins with La Celeste looking to be only on the fourth side to retain the title since 1991. Brazil has done it on two separate occasions along with Argentina.

But the writing was on the wall as early as minute 9 when Isla and Valdivia combined to set up Vargas for a speculative volley which went off target. Chile had Uruguay on the ropes with the sheer speed of their build-up play, sending a clear warning they they wanted to put the game to bed early.

Chile edged out Uruguay in possession for the first 25 minutes of the encounter. Valdivia, the little maestro, a delightful player to watch, got valuable support from Juventus duo Isla and Vidal.

Edison Cavani the man who was expected to lead the way for Uruguay in the absence of Luis Suarez who is still out on suspension, failed to show the spectators what he is capable of doing, despite speculation surrounding his departure from the competition after his father was arrested for a fatal drunk-driving incident . He was given the task to partner Diego Rolan in attack while Cristian Rodriguez’s goal against Jamaica was enough to see him replace Abel Hernandez and start on the left side of the midfield. Diego Godin had returned from suspension to spell Sebastian Coates in defence. The Paris Saint Germaine striker scored 19 times this season but could only manage to get his name in the referee’s book for an infringement. The striker was mainly used in a defensive role. Due to the flurry of attacks, they went under a limited possession in their favour. However, he was cautioned for a late challenge.

Meanwhile, one would wonder how Uruguay miraculously ended the first half ‘even Steven’ after a tasty stat revealed that Chile has completed 265 passes. Uruguay, by contrast, has managed only 43.

On the resumption, Uruguay was first out of the blocks in minute 53′. A free-kick was dealt with poorly by Chile with Rolan stabbing it towards the goal from eight yards out but, it went tamely down the throat of Bravo. A little to either side and that would have been 1-0 Uruguay. In quick response from the Chileans in minute 61′, Vidal rose imperiously at the far post to get on the end of a looping cross, but failed to cut back for Vargas and was unsuccessful in seriously testing Muslera who smothered with ease at the post.

The feisty encounter reached boiling point and things got ugly. Uruguay’s task got that much harder after the PSG striker picked up a second yellow card for a little slap out at Jara to add to his initial booking in the first half. Cavani was bemused at first, but that gave way to anger as he had to be restrained by his teammates.

Chile pressed deeper with real intent with a man advantage to break the rock solid Uruguayan defence. Valdivia had become the commentator’s favorite as he strode into space and played an ingenious pass goal-side of Fucile for Isla to chase on the overlap. The full-back’s cross found Sanchez in space but, he took a touch inside the box instead of shooting first-time and that took him too far away from goal.

Then the moment the fans were waiting for finally came. The full-back Mauricio Isla had been fantastic in attack all game, and he came up with the most decisive blow of them all. A cross was punched by Muslera to the top of the box and Valdivia gobbled up the scraps, taking control before laying off for Isla to hammer a lovely into the bottom corner from the top of the D through a forest off players.

To emphasize a disastrous afternoon for Uruguay, Fucile went in late on Sanchez from behind and was given his marching orders by the referee who deemed it reckless. A bench brawl delayed the game for 4 minutes.

The final whistle brought an end to a tepid defence of their title by Uruguay, as the hosts advance in search of glory.

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