Chile Advances to Copa America Finals after defeating Peru, 2-1…
by Shea Baldwin
Monday night at National Stadium in Santiago, Chile, the host country took on Peru in the Semi-Finals of the 2015 Copa America tournament. The tournament kept it’s traditional surprises this summer and has turned out to be very competitive, catching the attention of the entire football world with it close matches and intense rivalries.
With Brazil gone, the doors have opened up for the host country, Chile, who haven’t been to the finals in 28 years. Chile’s “golden generation,” loaded with new talent, and free flowing football with home advantage proved to be the key. Peru entered the match with their notoriously, resilient defense and the top goalscorer in Copa America, Paolo Guerrero, who finished with a hat-trick in the quarter-finals against Bolivia.
Just like in March Madness, the “Cinderella story” of Copa America would have to be a toss-up between Chile and Paraguay. Paraguay took out the tournament favorite, Brazil, while Chile took care of Uruguay… both teams brought their best game on Monday night, but only one would advance to the Finals of Copa America.
The opening 15′ minutes didn’t seize to amaze, with scuffles, fights and end-to-end play, the Copa America tournament was definitely fulfilling it’s tradition. Tension was very high early on, Vidal and Peru’s tough defense clashed many times.
Only 20 minutes in the match, a red card is given to the Peruvian defender, Carlos Zambrano. Already receiving a yellow early on, he booted the ball away but, with his follow-through, raked his studs down the back of a Chilean player. The ref had seen enough and sent him off, which put the Peruvian defense at a huge disadvantage.
Finally at the 42′ mark just before the half, Eduardo Vargas puts one in the back of the net to give Chile a uplifting, 1-0 lead. It was a brilliant move that started by Vidal who sent in down the left side of the field for Alexis. Alexis then crosses the ball over to the middle and it somehow escaped every player in the box, bouncing off the far post and rebounded in by Vargas.
With only ten men, Peru responded at the 60′ mark with a “own-goal” equalizer. It was brilliant work down the right wing by Peru’s right-back, Advincula, who crosses the ball into the six-yard box and found Gary Medel’s foot, beating the goalkeeper. The home fans of Chile grew quiet at National Stadium, hoping that the momentum hasn’t shifted into Peruvians hands.
The excitement didn’t last long for Peruvian fans, Vargas grabbed his second goal of the match giving the Chileans the 2-1 lead at the 64′ mark. Vargas picks the ball up about 25 yards from the goal and sends an absolute screamer into the top-left corner beyond Peruvian goalkeeper, Gallese. The roar of the home crowd was so intense it could of shook Santiago and heard all the way to the United States.
The lead was never lost by the hosts Chile, and they booked their place in the final of the Copa America after a double-goal performance by Eduardo Vargas. Carlos Zambrano was sent off early for the visitors making their improbable task even more unlikely on Monday night. Gary Medel’s own goal gave Peru hope, but a stunning strike from Vargas sent Chile through to the Finals.
Chile will await the winner of Paraguay and Lionel Messi’s, Argentina on U.S Independence Day, July 4th. Argentina and Paraguay face off Tuesday, June 30th at Estadio Municipal in Chile.
Photo: Reuters, Getty Images.