Brave Bravo Deny Portugal’s Final March

Andre Silva (L) of Portugal vies with Charles Aranguiz of Chile during the FIFA Confederations Cup 2017 semifinal match in Kazan, Russia (Xinhua/Bai Xueqi)

Goalkeeper Claudio Bravo emerged as the hero for Chile, making three consecutive stops in the penalty shootout to allow his side beat Portugal 3-0 in the battle for a spot in the Confederations Cup football final….reports Asian Lite News

Andre Silva (L) of Portugal vies with Charles Aranguiz of Chile during the FIFA Confederations Cup 2017 semifinal match in Kazan, Russia (Xinhua/Bai Xueqi)

Cristiano Ronaldo, the four-time Ballon d’Or winner who leads the Portuguese attack, had a frustrating day, spending much of Wednesday night’s match complaining to the referee, reports Efe news agency.

The European team had been undefeated in its meetings against Chile until now.

“We have deserved the victory as we had more of the scoring moments,” Chile head coach Juan Antonio Pizzi was quoted as saying by TASS news agency.

“Of course, luck plays an important part but it is nothing in football as we had been preparing hard for this encounter,” he added.

The opening 10 minutes yielded plenty of excitement for football fans as both teams offered numerous chances to score the opener in their aggressive offences.

Portugal made the better start though the first real chance went to Chile, with Eduardo Vargas on the verge of scoring in the sixth minute only to fire the ball straight at Portuguese goalkeeper Rui Patricio.

The reigning European champions immediately went into a counter-attack. A great ball by Ronaldo found Andre Silva alone in front of the far post, but Bravo made the first of a series of crucial saves.

Having tested each other in the opening 10 minutes, both teams seemed to be more cautious thereafter.

Arturo Vidal of Chile reacts during the FIFA Confederations Cup 2017 semifinal match against Portugal in Kazan, Russia (Xinhua/Evgeny Sinitsyn)

Chile were the first to be handed a yellow card in the 24th minute when defender Gonzalo Jara tried to steal the ball from Andre Silva from behind. After they both fell down, he stepped on the right foot of the Portugal forward.

Six minutes later, Portugal were also handed a yellow card after their midfielder William delivered a hard push into the back of Chile’s star midfielder Arturo Vidal.

Portugal’s Andre Silva was penalized with another yellow card for his team less than three minutes before the break for arguing with the referee.

Vargas threatened again in the 57th minute, and again Patricio was equal to the task. Seconds later, Bravo punched away a shot from Ronaldo.

With the 90 minutes of regulation time not yielding a result, the issue rolled into extra time.

Portugal received another yellow card in the first half of extra time as defender Jose Fonte was booked for a foul.

The only serious scoring opportunity of the first half of extra time was a header by Chile’s star forward Alexis Sanchez that brushed the right post.

The second half of extra time saw another booking for Portugal with defender Cedric at the receiving end of a yellow card this time.

Referee Alireza Faghani declined to award a penalty after Portugal’s Jose Fonte brought down Chilean sub Francisco Silva in the area.

Vidal could have won it for Chile in the waning moments of extra time, but his shot bounced off the post and Martin Rodriguez’s effort on the rebound hit the crossbar.

After more than 120 minutes of near-misses, Chilean shooters Vidal, Charles Aranguiz and Alexis displayed deadly accuracy in the shootout.

Bravo, meanwhile, coolly stopped Quaresma, Moutinho and Nani to dispatch the Portuguese.

Bravo, named the man of the match, said he was looking forward to Sunday’s final.

“I was injured for quite some time and it was not easy. However, today we had a special match as we qualified for the final game of the tournament, and we are very glad about that,” the Chilean said.

Speaking about the saves during the penalty shoot-out he said it was not an accident as “one should work really hard to achieve such result and learn the opponents’ moves”.

Sunday’s final will pit Chile against the winner of the other semi-final between Mexico and Germany while the loser of that match will face Portugal in the third-place game.

This year’s FIFA Confederations Cup is being held between June 17 and July 2 at four venues stadiums in Russia — the Spartak Stadium in Moscow, St. Petersburg Stadium, Fisht Stadium in Sochi and the Kazan Arena here.