Chile goalkeeper Claudio Bravo was the hero as Chile beat Portugal on penalties in a dramatic FIFA 2017 Confederations Cup semifinal showdown in Kazan.
Bravo saved all three Portuguese penalties from Ricardo Quaresma, João Moutinho and then Nani in the shootout after 120 goalless minutes at Kazan Arena, taking Chile through to the final at St. Petersburg Stadium on Sunday.
The South Americans became the first to book their place to the final and will meet either Germany or Mexico, who play each other in Sochi on Thursday night.
A seesaw 90 minutes saw both sides go close as early as the sixth and seventh minute, when Eduardo Vargas and then Andre Silva went close for Chile and Portugal, respectively.
Portugal applied sustained pressure from then on, although Ronaldo was not able to stamp his usual authority on the game due to some tight Chilean marking, La Roja occasionally breaking free to counterattack.
The first half’s tempo matched the temperament of both sides and tempers became frayed from both sides. Arturo Vidal, usually Chile’s midfield general, faced some heavy tackling from Portugal’s William Carvalho and then Bruno Alves.
The second half brought more of the same frantic action, and Vargas was first to go close when his acrobatic effort was pawed away by the excellent reflexes of Rui Patricio.
Nani was introduced in the 76th minute for Andre Silva in a smart move, as Silva had been carrying a yellow card and had become riled by the Chilean defense.
Ninety goalless minutes meant extra time. A Sanchez header was probably the best chance of the first half while one minute from time in the second half, Arturo Vidal sliced a shot onto the post before Rodriguez hit the rebound onto the bar.
Rui Patricio gratefully clutched the ball but the Portuguese keeper was helpless to stop Vidal, Charles Aranguiz and Alexis Sanchez from netting their spot kicks in the shootout, which gave Chile a 3-0 lead that was made unassailable when Bravo saved.