Kazan (Russia): Goalkeeper Claudio Bravo emerged 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 here.
Cristiano Ronaldo, the four-time Ballon d’Or winner who leads the Portuguese attack, had a frustrating day, spending much of Wednesday’s match complaining to the referee, reports Efe.
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 keeper Rui Patricio.
The reigning European champions immediately went into counter-attack and 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.
Vargas threatened again in the 57th minute, and again Patricio was equal to the task. Seconds later, Bravo punched away a shot from Ronaldo.
The 90 minutes plus stoppage time ended with the score knotted at zero and the contest went to extra time.
The only serious scoring opportunity of the first overtime was an Alexis Sanchez header that brushed the right post.
In the second overtime, referee Alireza Faghani declined to award a penalty after Portugal’s Jose Fonte brought down Chilean sub Francisco Silva in the area.
Arturo 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.
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.