Chile continued the theme of the quarter-finals as they crashed out the 2011 Copa América after going down 2-1 to the unfancied Venezuela in the last of the matches to decide who would make it through to the semi-finals. It also continued a theme of Chile’s failure to win an international or continental tournament.
It may have the pressure of the moment or the knowledge that arch-nemesis Brazil had been knocked out of the tournament only minutes earlier, but Chile’s opening forty-five minutes against Venezuela lacked all the verve and interplay of their first three matches of the tournament. It was hardly surprising then that in the 34th minute, Venezuela capitalised on the static nature of Chile’s efforts as Oswaldo Vizcarrondo got on the end of a well placed free kick to give el vinotinto the lead. It was a goal symptomatic of Chile’s defending throughout the tournament.
As has been his want throughout the tournament, Claudio Borghi again went to his bench to revitalise his team with Jorge Valdivia replacing Carlos Carmona for the start of the second half. And like other occasions it had the necessary effect as la roja looked are much more threatening team than they had in the first half and had their Venezuelan opponents on the back foot for long periods of time. Chile’s extended period of pressure finally paid off in the 69th minute as Humberto Suazo fired home from close range. It looked as if the momentum had finally switched and the favourites would ram home their advantage.
It wasn’t to be however as another cheap foul lead to a Juan Arango free kick that ‘keeper Claudio Bravo was unable to hold onto which allowed Gabriel Cichero to slam what would be the winner in the 81st minute. Whilst much of the blame will be laid at the feet of Bravo, some of that blame must be passed onto his teammates who continually made unnecessary fouls and exposed the team to a threat that had trouble dealing with all tournament. Only a minute later, Chile’s cause wasn’t helped by the sending off of Gary Medel for a second bookable offence. Medel, who was the chief instigator of the constant fouling, was a ticking time bomb and it was only a matter of time before he had an early shower.
In many ways Chile might consider themselves unlucky, a touch and go offside call in the dying moments and shots being cleared off the line or hitting the woodwork being prime examples but their poor first half and their inability to deal with set pieces were ultimately their team. There is no need for the self-flagellation and recriminations of the past but a careful analysis of where it went wrong and how it can be rectified come the 2014 World Cup Qualifiers. They have the right man in charge, they just need to let him do his thing.
Chile 1-2 Venezuela