Defending champ Chile overcomes two called back goals to top Colombia 5-4 on penalties to reach Copa America semifinals
By TALES AZZONI AP Sports Writer
SAO PAULO (AP) — After having two goals taken away by video review, Chile kept its cool and stayed on track to defend its Copa América title.
Chile overcame two unfavorable VAR decisions in regulation time on Friday, then defeated Colombia 5-4 on penalties in the quarterfinals of the South American competition.
Alexis Sánchez scored the decisive penalty kick to send the two-time defending champions to the semifinals.
Chile will face either Uruguay or Peru, which meet Saturday in Salvador. Brazil and Argentina will play in the other semifinal.
Chile had goals reversed by video review in each half of a 0-0 draw in regulation time.
"We have to get used to it," said Chile coach Reinaldo Rueda, a Colombian. "It generates a feeling of frustration. You celebrate a goal but then you have to accept these decisions. Fortunately, the team didn't lose its cool and the players kept their mental strength despite of what happened."
Colombian defender William Tesillo missed wide in the second-to-last penalty, and Sánchez came in to seal Chile's victory with a low shot into the corner.
Arturo Vidal, Eduardo Vargas, Erick Pulgar and Charles Aránguiz also scored for Chile in the shootout, while James Rodríguez, Edwin Cardona, Juan Cuadrado and Yerry Mina netted for Colombia, which had the best campaign of the group stage and exited the tournament without conceding any goals in four matches.
"Penalties are always more in the hands of God than in the feet of the players," Colombia coach Carlos Queiroz said. "It was a tough defeat, but this was a step forward for Colombia. We are certain that the Colombian fans have reason to be proud. Our performance shows that there are signs of improvement."
Colombia, which was seeking its second straight semifinal appearance, was also eliminated by Chile in the last four of the 2016 Copa América. The Chileans got the best of Colombia the last four times the teams met in the tournament's knockout stages.
Chile is trying to become the first nation to win three straight Copa titles since Argentina in the late 1940s.
It was an open match at the Arena Corinthians, but it was Chile that created the most significant scoring opportunities.
The titleholders thought they had opened the scoring with Aránguiz about 15 minutes into the match, but the goal was called off after video review determined Sánchez was offside in the build-up. In the 70th, Vidal's goal with a shot from inside the area was reversed because the ball touched the arm of teammate Guillermo Maripán before reaching Vidal.
Goalkeeper David Ospina, returning to the Colombia lineup after traveling back home to visit his ill father, had already made two great consecutive saves earlier in the match to keep Chile from opening the scoring.
It was a tense match at times, and a brawl involving nearly all players erupted in the first half after Sánchez and Colombian defender Mina got into an altercation.
Colombia's only Copa title came in a final against Mexico in 2001, though it had made it to the quarterfinals four straight times. This was Chile's fifth straight last-eight appearance. It defeated Argentina in the last two finals, both times in penalty shootouts.
The match was delayed in 20 minutes because the Chilean squad was caught in heavy traffic in São Paulo and couldn't arrive in time at the stadium.
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