Mauricio Isla broke Uruguay’s stubborn resistance as host nation Chile advanced to the Copa America semi-finals as 1-0 victors against the defending champions.
Uruguay were reduced to 10 men just past the hour mark, when Edinson Cavani saw red for a second yellow card in Santiago on Wednesday.
Cavani received his marching orders for slapping Gonzalo Jara in the face, capping a turbulent week for the Paris Saint-Germain star after his father was allegedly involved in a car crash that led to a fatality in Uruguay on Monday.
Uruguay’s centre-back pairing of Diego Godin and Jose Gimenez were an immovable force up until the 80th minute, when Isla controlled the ball on the edge of the penalty area and fired Chile – bidding to win Copa America for the first time – into the final four of South America’s premier tournament.
The match was blighted by a late red card to Uruguay defender Jorge Fucile, who sparked an all-in melee and a delay in play, while coach Oscar Tabarez was sent to the stands as the 2011 champions lost their heads.
Chile, who will face the winner of Bolivia and Peru on Monday, made one change to the team that routed Bolivia 5-0 in their final group fixture last week, with Eugenio Mena replacing Jean Beausejour.
Godin returned to Uruguay’s starting line-up at the expense of Sebastian Coates after missing the 1-1 draw with Paraguay, while Fucile and Cristian Rodriguez came in for Alvaro Pereira and Abel Hernandez, respectively.
The opening 45 minutes in the Chilean capital – brutal at times with numerous challenges – was a half of few chances, Uruguay happy to sit back and stifle Chile with players behind the ball.
It proved effective as Chile, who dominated proceedings, struggled to create anything clear-cut, with the hosts forced into strikes from distance.
Charles Aranguiz came close to breaking the deadlock in the 26th minute, though his shot was straight down the throat of Fernando Muslera, while the Uruguay goalkeeper also dealt with Arturo Vidal’s stinging long-range effort 11 minutes later.
The second half followed a similar path, with Chile dictating play without reward.
However, Uruguay had an opportunity to take an unlikely lead from a set piece after the ball fell to the feet of forward Diego Rolan, who reacted quickest but was unable to generate enough power in his volley to trouble Claudio Bravo.
Cavani left Uruguay with a mountain to climb, when he was shown a second yellow card in the 63rd minute.
Despite being down to 10 men, Uruguay engineered two good openings, while a Chile corner flashed across the six-yard box and eluded everyone.
Chile, however, finally made the most of their numerical advantage via Isla, who fired the ball into the bottom corner of the net with nine minutes left on the clock.
Uruguay’s woes were compounded in the penultimate minute of regulation time, when Fucile saw red for a second bookable offence in a disappointing end for Tabarez’s men.
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