Goals from Vizcarrondo and Cichero put Venezuela into its first Copa America semifinal after an amazing second half in San Juan sees much-fancied Chile dumped out
Venezuela booked a place in the Copa America semifinal for the first time in its history, after an exciting 2-1 victory over Chile at the Estadio del Bicentenario in San Juan.
The Venezuelans went into the match looking to end a 10 year wait for victory over its opponents and knew a win would also hand the nation a first ever semifinal berth in the competition.
Coach Cesar Farias made four changes to the side that drew Wednesday’s six-goal thriller with Paraguay, as the tournament’s surprise package looked to continue its impressive form.
Chile was overwhelming favourites against Farias’ men and took the field on the back of an 11-game unbeaten run.
The opening exchanges produced little in the way of excitement as the game was littered by a frustrating catalogue of stoppages and misplaced passes.
Chile, backed by a vocal crowd, looked to current man-of-the-moment Alexis Sanchez to inject some much needed inspiration into the game, but the Barcelona target was well marshalled by a solid Venezuelan defence and became frustrated by some close marking.
The deadlock was finally broken in the 34th minute after Juan Arrango whipped a dangerous free-kick into the Chilean area, and Oswaldo Vizcarrondo rose unopposed to power a thunderous header past the stranded Claudio Bravo to give Venezuela the lead.
Chile almost grabbed an equaliser on the stroke of halftime but went in at the break trailing.
Ten minutes into the second half, La Roja finally showed signs of life as Sanchez went close and moments later, Humberto Suazo left the crossbar rattling with a thumping right-foot effort.
Minutes later the woodwork was again left shaking, as the impressive Jorge Valdivia tried his luck on the edge of the area.
Chile eventually sprang into life and began to push hard for a way back into the game, with the influential Sanchez and Valdivia pulling the strings.
Venezuelan resistance was finally broken two minutes later as Sanchez picked out Suazo inside the area where the Monterrey striker finished from close range to make it 1-1.
Chile began to dominate and flooded forward in search of a winner. However, the sucker punch came with 10 minutes remaining as Bravo spilled a freekick in the six-yard box, allowing Gabriel Cichero to stab home the loose ball and restore Venezuela's lead.
Chile was reduced to ten men after Medel was shown his second yellow card and it could not find a way back into the game.
Venezuela now faces an intriguing semifinal clash against Paraguay on Wednesday.
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