In a stormy Chicago, Los Cafeteros were overpowered after Chile scored twice in the first 15 minutes and held the score for the rest of the game
Play was delayed for almost two and a half hours after a thunderstorm hit Chicago during half time. But the extended break didn’t help Pekerman’s men, who couldn’t get back in the game. Colombia will now face the USA in a match for third place.
Chile took an early lead just six minutes in, when Frank Fabra was caught out of position on the left back and Pedro Fuenzalida crossed the ball into the box. Carlos Sánchez, under pressure from Alexis Sánchez, headed in Charles Aránguiz feet, who had no problem getting it past David Ospina.
Colombia continued to be overrun. Five minutes later, a long ball from Chilean goalkeeper Claudio Bravo to Alexis Sanchez on the left wing was skillfully controlled by the Arsenal strongholder who cut away from Santiago Arias. Sánchez hit the post from the 18-yard line with a powerful attempt. Fuenzalida beat Frank Fabra to the rebound and put the ball into the back of the empty goal.
Chile nearly made it 3-0 in minute 15, as Alexis Sánchez broke down the right wing where Frank Fabra was chronically missing, but his attempt went wide via Ospina and the crossbar.
Colombia, who had looked down-and-out against the quick Chileans, did manage to take control after 25 minutes. Captain James Rodríguez, invisible up until that point, put a great ball through to Roger Martínez. The young striker made a valiant attempt but Claudio Bravo blocked.
Colombia got stronger as the first half continued but Chile held well. On the brink of halftime Carlos Sánchez made an attempt from outside the box but Bravo was on his spot. Colombia kept the Chilean goal under siege, but Chile’s luck held, and so did their 2-0 lead which they took into the changing room.
The players didn’t come back onto the pitch for another two and a half hours after a heavy thunderstorm hit Chicago. Spectators were ordered out of the stands into covered space inside the stadium, as heavy rain poured over the city for about an hour. There were even rumours that the game would have to be finished the following day, but the rain eventually cleared and play continued at 10:25pm.
The second half kicked off on a very wet pitch with Atlético Nacional wonderkid Marlos Moreno substituted on for Edwin Cardona. Daniel Torres claimed a penalty two minutes in, after being tripped by Gonzalo Jara, but referee Aguilar waved it away.
Colombia’s hopes were hit hard when Carlos Sánchez got a yellow card for an innocent foul in the 56th minute. Referee Aguilar seemed to have forgotten that he had already given Sánchez a yellow, taking a few seconds before showing the Colombian holding midfielder the red.
With ten men against 11, Los Cafeteros needed to work even harder, and Erick Pulgar almost pushed Chile’s advantage. He headed in a Fuenzalida cross from the left, but Ospina kept Colombia in the game with a brilliant save.
With Sebástian Pérez on the pitch for Frank Fabra, Colombia moved to a back-three, putting more pressure on the midfield. Colombia kept trying to find the attack when in possession, but with less and less power. At 65 minutes, James Rodríguez fired from outside the box, finding Bravo on his way. Chances from Marlos Moreno, James and Sebastián Pérez still didn’t generate the much needed goal. While Carlos Bacca came on for Cuadrado to inject new energy, the lights slowly went out for the tired looking Colombians.
In the last ten minutes the match became dirtier as fouls accumulated but the scoreline didn’t change. Colombia’s final game will now be the rather uninteresting match for the third place. They will face the USA on Saturday, June 25 at 7pm.
By Freek Huigen