A solitary strike from Mauricio Isla nine minutes from time was enough to see host nation Chile dethrone current champion Uruguay 1-0 in the first quarter-final of the 2015 Copa América at the Estadio Nacional in Santiago.
An ill-tempered affair in the Chilean capital saw holder Uruguay finish the match with nine men, as La Roja recorded their first victory in the knockout stages of the Copa América since the 1999 tournament in Paraguay. The Juventus full-back’s 81st minute strike sets up a date with either Bolivia or Peru in the first semi-final at the Estadio Nacional on June 29. Much pre-match talk surrounded Uruguayan striker Edinson Cavani, who’s father was arrested in Salto on Monday after being involved in a car crash that claimed the life of a motorcyclist.
In a first half bereft of clear-cut opportunities that featured more brutal challenges than shots on goal, Óscar Tabárez’s Uruguay was happy to sit back and soak up the pressure from the host nation, as Chile dominated the first half possession statistics. Atlético Madrid’s centre-back pairing of Diego Godín and José Giménez were a near impenetrable force throughout the match, as Los Charrúas‘ backline proved too difficult for Chile to break down.
Charles Aránguiz came close for the hosts after 26 minutes, only to see his shot fall straight to Muslera, while Arturo Vidal’s stinging drive eight minutes before the break was unable to break the deadlock in a half that saw four yellow cards awarded.
The second half began in similar fashion to the first, with Chile dominating the defending champions but unable to force a way through. The emotionally-fragile Cavani was then sent off after 63 minutes, receiving a second booking after a controversial incident with Chilean centre-back Gonzalo Jara, capping off a miserable tournament for the PSG striker.
However, after over 80 minutes of pressure which merited no reward, Jorge Sampaoli’s men finally broke the deadlock through former QPR loanee Mauricio Isla, who fired home through a sea of legs to send La Roja‘s fans into a frenzy with Chile’s 11th goal of the tournament.
The champions lost their cool two minutes from time, when Jorge Fucile’s sending off after a rash challenge on Alexis Sánchez sparked all-in melee pitch-side which held up play for five minutes. Arturo Vidal nearly netted six minutes into stoppage time, but the hosts still managed to record a hard-fought 1-0 victory to send the champions packing.