Chile beat Portugal on penalties to book place in final

Cristiano Ronaldo and Alexis Sanchez may have gone missing, but Max Grieve didn’t and he brings you all you may have missed from this morning’s semi-final.

What Happened:
Chile are through to the final of the 2017 Confederations Cup with Claudio Bravo’s shootout heroics sending the Chileans to Moscow and the Portuguese packing after a gripping 0-0 draw.

For over two hours, two of the best sides in world football played out what the Chilean manager Juan Antonio Pizzi had predicted would be ‘a beautiful match.’ For some, the absence of goals might have dampened the spectacle, but the quality of the match was undeniable – the quality of finishing, less so.

 

The opening five minutes were relentless, with Rui Patricio foiling Eduardo Vargas in a one-on-one before Portugal broke up the other end where Andre Silva slammed a shot from close range straight at Bravo.

Portugal looked to settle on the ball after a frantic start, but a failure to make the most of the chances that fell to them – André Gomes was particularly wasteful – meant that when Chile finally woke up, they did so on equal terms. Vargas flicked a swerving bicycle kick towards goal, but Patricio was alive to the danger to tip the ball around the post.

Ronaldo, for his part, had done little to warrant a mention of his name in this brief report, except for a predictably unpredictable free kick which spun wide just after the hour mark. Still, it wouldn’t have felt right leaving him out. He huffed, and sighed, and gritted his teeth. The game continued around him.

For over two hours, the SBS commentator could hardly draw breath as he insisted that the game needed a goal, but he was wrong on two counts: firstly, there was the possibility of a 0-0 draw and a shootout, and the game had also been very good without one.

As I noted a ‘cool-looking shot’ from Arturo Vidal, I realised that the commentator might’ve been right. Extra time slid towards a shootout, which almost wasn’t needed as the Chileans hit the woodwork twice in two seconds in the matches final few minutes. Still, neither side was able to break the deadlock, leaving Bravo to save all three penalties that he faced in the shootout – from Ricardo Quaresma, João Moutinho and Nani – and send Chile to the final.

Talking Points

This is probably too much football. By the time they play in the final on Monday morning, the Chileans will have played five matches in just under two weeks, on the back of a European season which finished a little over two weeks prior.

Both sides looked completely sapped of energy at the end of normal time, and extra time often had the feel of a friendly, or at least of a match that neither team wanted to be playing any longer. A penalty shootout at the end of normal time would have served everyone here: the players in Kazan who wanted to get off their legs and sit down for a while before doing it all again in a few days, and the guy live-tweeting extra time in Sydney at 5.30am.

Goal of the day

N/A, but here’s a header from Tim Cahill to make up for it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x3Q40ihE7jU

Standout performance

Claudio Bravo is terrible, apparently. He wasn’t very good for Manchester City last season, which means he is terrible now. It was a pity, then, when he decided to shatter a season-long narrative by being not terrible here – in fact, he was pretty good.

A series of key saves over more than two hours of football could have seen either goalkeeper – Bravo or his counterpart Rui Patricio – take out the man of the match award, but it was rightly presented to Bravo; his three saves in the shootout ultimately decisive. Add a Confederations Cup to two Copa Américas in two years, and Bravo’s 2017 could look a lot brighter.

What it means

Chile travel to Moscow for a final against either Mexico or Germany, which I’d probably expect them to win, having outshone the Germans in the group stage, and thrashing Mexico 7-0 at the last time of asking. That the Confederations Cup is merely a World Cup ‘curtain-raiser’ will mean little to Pizzi and his players: this is the best Chilean team in history, and they’ll want to consolidate that claim with as many trophies as they can get their hands on.

Portugal, meanwhile, head home, and can take comfort knowing that there’s no chance that they’ll be wildly unpopular winners this time around.

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