Thursday, June 23, 2016

Copa America Centenario Day 18: Chile coasts by Colombia to reach final

Colombia 0-2 Chile
This semi-final was, on paper, supposed to be the more competitive affair when compared to yesterday's slaughter in Houston. Chile, who hung seven on Mexico in the quarters, was taking on fellow favorite Colombia, who needed penalties to see off Peru. Both sides contain bona fide talents that were capable of winning this tournament.

Chile got themselves off and running quickly. The went ahead in the seventh minute thanks to Charles Aranguiz latching onto a header in the box of a Colombian defender. His tap in made it 1-0 with relative ease. The lead was doubled in the 11th minute with a transition attack that ended in Jose Fuenzalida smashing into a wide open goal off a rebound.

For a while, it looked like this match would turn into another beat down in the knockout rounds. Instead, Colombia managed to stabilize and create a couple chances of their own. Claudio Bravo was stout in the Chilean goal to keep the likes of James Rodriguez and crew from putting anything on the board.

The start of the second half was delayed more than two hours thanks to violent thunderstorms in the Chicago area and the rain soaked pitch once they had cleared. When the half did get going, Colombia still had trouble getting anything moving. Chile wasn't much interested in attacking, even though another goal would certainly seal their move to the final. Instead, their game of keep away was enough to keep Colombia at bay.

Their task got even easier in the 57th minute when Colombia's Carlos Sanchez picked up a second yellow and got himself sent off.

All this did was increase the difficulty of Colombia's comeback and make the Chilean advance all the more likely. All it took was the time to tick away to send them through for a rematch of last year's Copa America final. Chile will take on Argentina on Sunday night in New Jersey with the aim of repeating as champions. Argentina won 2-1 in group play, for what it's worth.

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