Colombia’s Copa America dream was cruelly extinguished on Friday as a close-fought quarter final with Chile saw their fate decided by penalties.
In a game where Colombia never really got going, questions might well be asked about momentum coming into the game given the manager’s decision to rest his star players against Paraguay. Perhaps Chile’s unlucky loss to Uruguay put them in a better state of mind coming into the clash.
Selection conundrums aside, while Colombia showed flashes of brilliance and pegged Chile back for long stretches, especially in the second half, they never really tested the Chilean keeper, and the reigning champions always looked the more likely to score.
The first half was dominated by Chile, who forced a stunning save from Ospina in the Colombian goal from a header early on before having a well-worked goal denied by a marginal VAR-aided offside call, sparing the blushes of Davinson Sanchez, who seemed to kick the ball out of Ospina’s hands to gift the ‘goal’ to the Chilean Aranguiz.
Colombia grew into the game a little before the half-time interval and came scampering out the blocks as the second period began, with the Chilean side finding themselves with considerably less time on the ball than before.
A free kick from an unpromising position on the Chilean left was almost magicked into the net by James Rodriguez soon after the restart, but in truth this was as close as the team came to truly testing Arias in the Chilean goal, on a day where their strike force struggled for a cutting edge.
Just after the halfway point in the second half, Colombia’s luck seemed to have run out as the unstoppable Arturo Vidal buried a snapshot into the bottom right corner of Ospina’s goal, before VAR intervened, revealing a handball in the buildup and reversing the decision in Colombia’s favor.
Even though this came firmly against the run of play, from then on Colombia seemed to be playing for penalties. Even the introduction of their top goalscorer Duvan Zapata late on could not provide the impetus they needed to take the lead.
Seemingly out of ideas and low on confidence, they sat back, simply hoofed it up to the big striker and hoped for a miracle. The final whistle apparently couldn’t come soon enough.
Colombia’s last brush with penalties saw them cruelly dumped out of the world cup a year ago, and this was no less hard to take.
The shootout saw eight successful penalties, before Colombia’s fifth and final kick was spooned horribly wide by the inconsolable William Tesillo, before Alexis Sanchez coolly slotted home to break Colombian hearts and secure his side a place in the semi-finals.