Chile storm to Confederations Cup final as Claudio Bravo shines


29 Jun 2017 | by
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Chile storm to Confederations Cup final as Claudio Bravo shines

Manchester City goalkeeper Claudio Bravo was the hero as Chile reached the Confederations Cup final by beating Portugal on penalties.

Portugal 0-0 Chile (0-3 on pens

Bravo denied efforts from Ricardo Quaresma, Joao Moutinho and Nani as Chile converted all their spot-kicks.

It was perhaps justice for Chile, who had a strong claim for a penalty denied deep in extra time and also hit the post twice in quick succession.

They will play either Germany or Mexico in Sunday's final in St Petersburg.

Arturo Vidal, whose shot hit the post in closing stages of extra-time before Martin Rodriguez's follow up also hit the woodwork, was successful from the spot for Chile along with Charles Aranguiz and Arsenal forward Alexis Sanchez.

The dramatic finale lit up an otherwise dull encounter, with both sides looking tired after playing their fourth game in just 10 days at the tournament in Russia.

Relief for under-pressure Bravo

Claudio Bravo
Bravo saved the only penalty he faced in the Premier League last season, denying Erik Lamela in a 2-0 defeat by Tottenham in October last year

Bravo's performance will have come as welcome relief for the goalkeeper at the end of a difficult season domestically.

The 34-year-old was signed by Pep Guardiola from Barcelona last summer to replace England international Joe Hart, but faced criticism for his shot-stopping skills since arriving in a £15.4m deal.

Bravo will have to fight to remain City's first-choice keeper after Guardiola signed Ederson Moraes for £35m from Benfica earlier this month but his focus for now is on leading Chile to the Confederations Cup title.

"We are satisfied with the result and how we played, but we have still not won anything," he said.

To VAR or not to VAR?

Chile have reached the final on their debut appearance at the Confederations Cup but a decision that went against them could have been a particularly strong talking point if they had not progressed.

This tournament has seen the implementation of video assistant referees (VARs) and it appeared the system would be used in this game when, in the final few minutes of extra time, Francisco Silva knocked the ball past Jose Fonte inside the box and the West Ham defender appeared to bring down the Chile substitute inside the box.

Referee Alireza Faghani had the option to initiate a video review of the incident but chose not to, instead awarding a goal kick.

Chile progressed regardless in the end but it was another controversial moment at the tournament involving VARs.

Old rivalry renewed

Alexis Sanchez and Cristiano Ronaldo
Sanchez (left) and Ronaldo (right) faced each other several times in La Liga from 2011 until 2014

The game at the Kazan Arena pitted Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo against his former Barcelona foil Sanchez, a mouth-watering prospect given their form for their respective clubs this season.

Ronaldo hit a stunning 37 goals in 42 appearances for Real and, while Sanchez scored 10 fewer, the Arsenal forward provided more assists for his team-mates with 13 compared to Ronaldo's 11.

Sanchez caught the eye when he created an early opportunity for Chile, playing a defence-splitting pass to put Eduardo Vargas through, but Portugal goalkeeper Rui Patricio was quick off his line to close down the gap.

After that, though, Sanchez's influence faded as Ronaldo's grew stronger. His first contribution was to provide a brilliant pass behind the defence for Andre Silva, whose shot was straight at Bravo and the Manchester City goalkeeper later denied a stinging effort by the Portuguese forward.

Ronaldo almost won the tie for Portugal just before the end of normal time but flicked his header wide.

Sanchez, though, had the ultimate say, despatching the decisive kick in the shootout for Chile. Ronaldo, in line to take Portugal's fourth or fifth penalty, did not even have the chance to try and score from the spot.

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