Sao Paulo, Jun 29 : Alexis Sanchez netted the decisive spot-kick as defending champions Chile reached the Copa America semifinals by defeating Colombia 5-4 on penalties.
The Manchester United forward held his nerve after Leon defender William Tesillo sent Colombia's fifth attempt wide in a dramatic finish to their quarterfinal at Arena Corinthians in Sao Paulo on Friday.
Chile had two goals ruled out by the video assistant referee (VAR) and had 59% of possession, but they only managed two shots on target to Colombia's one.
The result earned Chile a semifinal berth against either Peru or Uruguay at Porto Alegre's Arena do Gremio next Wednesday. Brazil and Argentina will meet in the other semifinal in Belo Horizonte the previous day.
It was the fifth consecutive time that Colombia has kept a clean sheet in the Copa America, a sequence that dates back to the 2016 tournament in the United States. But they paid the price for their lack of a cutting edge in attack as Radamel Falcao, Juan Cuadrado, Roger Martinez and substitute Duvan Zapata failed to find a way past Chile's defence.
Colombia head coach Carlos Queiroz made eight changes to the side that beat Paraguay 1-0 in their final group match. Santiago Arias, Duvan Zapata, John Lucumi, Cristian Borja, Jefferson Lerma, Edwin Cardona, Gustavo Cuellar and Luis Diaz made way for John Medina, Yerry Mina, Davinson Sanchez, Tesillo, Wilmar Barrios, Andres Uribe, James Rodriguez and Roger Martinez.
Chile's Colombian manager Reinaldo Rueda made four alterations to the team that lost to Uruguay 1-0 last Monday with Mauricio Isla, Jean Beausejour, Arturo Vidal and Jose Fuenzalida coming in for Paulo Diaz, Gonzalo Jara, Pedro Hernandez and Oscar Opazo.
The Cafeteros began the match in an energetic mood as James Rodriguez, Cuadrado and Martinez showed a willingness to cut inside and run at Chile's backline.
However it didn't take long for the Roja to start dictating terms and they looked the more dangerous side when they forayed into the final third.
Chile appeared to take the lead when Colombia goalkeeper David Ospina fumbled a seemingly simple cross and Eduardo Vargas fired in the rebound. However referee Nestor Pitana consulted VAR before ruling that Sanchez was offside in the build up. Sanchez then made a defence-splitting run and curled an effort just over the bar.
Colombia had few clear scoring opportunities, with Martinez letting the ball run away from him after a probing run into the area and Falcao failing to trouble Gabriel Arias with a tame 25-yard effort.
Chile were again denied by VAR in the 72nd minute. Vidal angled a powerful drive into the bottom right corner of Ospina's goal but, after a delay of more than five minutes, Pitana ruled that Guillermo Maripan handled the ball in the box moments before the strike.
The Roja continued to press and sent Colombian hearts fluttering once more as Sanchez's lobbed effort just kept out by a scrambling Ospina.
However Colombia defended resolutely and - with no extra time in the Copa America quarterfinals - forced the match into a penalty shootout after the allotted 90 minutes.
Vidal, Vargas, Erick Pulgar and Charles Aranguiz joined Sanchez in burying their spot kicks while Rodriguez, Edwin Cardona, Juan Cuadrado and Yerry Mina converted four from four attempts for Colombia before Tesillo's miss. (UNI-XINHUA)