Venezuela 2, Chile 1

BY foxsports • July 18, 2011

Venezuela reached the Copa America semifinals for the first time as Oswaldo Vizcarrondo and Gabriel Cichero scored either side of halftime to beat Chile 2-1 on Sunday.

Humberto Suazo equalized briefly for Chile in the second half.

Venezuela is unbeaten in four games at the Copa America and has been the surprise team in a surprising tournament.

Venezuela will face Paraguay on Wednesday, while Peru plays Uruguay in Tuesday's other semifinal.

''We played when we had to play, and suffered when we had to suffer,'' Venezuela coach Cesar Farias said. ''And we had luck when we needed to have luck.''

Throughout the tournament Farias has been pleading for respect, trying to cast aside the image of a country far better known for its baseball talent. Venezuela is the only country of the 10 in the South American confederation that has never played in the World Cup.

''We beat a rival who was in the World Cup,'' Farias said of Chile, which reached the second round last year in South Africa. ''Chile's players were the revelation of last year's World Cup qualifying, and they confirmed it at the World Cup.''

Tournament favorites Brazil and Argentina were knocked out in the quarterfinals. Paraguay defeated defending champion Brazil on penalties Sunday, and Argentina lost to Uruguay on Saturday, also in a shootout.

Cichero scored the winner in the 81st minute after Chile had almost all the play in the second half and seemed headed for a late victory. Cichero found the net after Chile goalkeeper Claudio Bravo failed to control a free kick and let the rebound fall free in front of the goal.

Venezuela took a 1-0 lead in the 35th minute with Vizcarrondo's header. Vizcarrondo cut across the area and headed in a cross from Juan Arango from a free kick. The shot beat Bravo just inside the post to his left.

Chile leveled the match in the 70th minute when Suazo drove in a shot off the underside of the crossbar following a pass from Alexis Sanchez.

Chile, which had the best record in the group stage with seven points from nine, goes the way of Brazil and Argentina and leaves the tournament with Uruguay as the slight favorite. Uruguay has won the title 14 times, the same as Argentina.

''I am leaving sad,'' said Chile coach Claudio Borghi, who replaced Marcelo Bielsa after the World Cup. ''But I don't feel cheated. Unfortunately, we were not able to meet all the expectations people had.''

Chile had several chances in the second half.

In the 54th, Alexis Sanchez's header was cleared off the line by a Chile defender. Seconds later, Suazo hit the post. Chile pressed on with Jorge Valdivia hitting the post in the 58th. Ten minutes later, Gary Medel's short-range header was stopped by keeper Renny Vega.

Both teams finished with 10 players. Chile's Medel was sent off for his second yellow card in the 83rd, and Tomas Rincon was shown a red card in second-half injury time.



Venezuela: Renny Vega, Roberto Rosales, Oswaldo Vizcarrondo, Grenddy Perozo, Gabriel Cichero, Tomas Rincon, Franklin Lucena, Cesar Gonzalez (Alejandro Moreno, 89), Juan Arango, Nicolas Fedor (Jose Salomon Rondon, 59), Giancarlo Maldonado (Luis Seijas, 64).

Chile: Claudio Bravo, Pablo Contreras, Waldo Ponce, Gonzalo Jara (Esteban Paredes, 59), Mauricio Isla, Carlos Carmona (Jorge Valdivia, 45), Gary Medel, Arturo Vidal, Luis Jimenez (Carlos Munoz, 82), Alexis Sanchez, Humberto Suazo.