Tue, Jul 19, 2011 - Page 18 News List

‘La Vinotinto’ complete set of quarter-final upsets

Reuters, SAN JUAN, ARGENTINA

A Venezuela fan celebrates in Caracas after his team scored against Chile in their Copa America quarter-final played in San Juan, Argentina, on Sunday.

Photo: Reuters

Venezuela reached the semi-finals of the Copa America for the first time on Sunday by beating Chile 2-1 in yet another quarter-final upset.

Leftback Gabriel Cichero scored the winning goal nine minutes from time, stabbing the ball home from close range after Chile goalkeeper Claudio Bravo had parried a Juan Arango free-kick.

Centerback Oswaldo Vizcarrondo had given Venezuela the lead with a header in the 35th minute, also from an Arango free-kick, before Humberto Suazo equalized for Chile in the 70th minute.

Both teams ended the match with 10 men, Chile’s Gary Medel and Venezuela’s Tomas Rincon sent off in the closing minutes.

Venezuela will face Paraguay in Mendoza tomorrow for a place in the final.

Long regarded as one of the weakest teams on the continent, their best previous finish at a Copa America was fifth in 1967, the year they made their Copa debut. Their victory completed a remarkable set of quarter-final results — Argentina, Brazil and Colombia had already fallen at the same stage, while Chile had been fancied to win.

Venezuela deserved their halftime lead, if only for the dogged way in which they knocked Chile out of their stride, preventing them playing the neat, fluid soccer that had characterized their earlier performances, but after the break Chile turned up the heat.

They hit the crossbar twice, first through Suazo, with a shot on the turn, and then, four minutes later, through Jorge Valdivia’s fierce shot from the edge of the box.

After 70 minutes, Suazo finally found a way through. Alexis Sanchez fed the ball through to him and Suazo crashed his shot in off the underside of the crossbar.

The match looked to be there for Chile to take and they pushed forward in search of a winner, but with 10 minutes to go, Arango curled a free-kick into the box, Bravo parried it and Cichero poked it home, silencing the 20,000 Chile fans inside the stadium.

It was only Venezuela’s second victory over Chile in 22 meetings.

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