Copa America keeps on giving. We’ve seen some incredible games throughout the tournament and that was very much true in the semifinals. Host nation Chile is in the finals for the first time in 28 years after a 2-1 victory over Peru. Argentina dominated in a big way in the other semifinal and crushed Paraguay 6-1. Chile and Argentina will collide in the final on Saturday in Santiago.
Chile has been entertaining the home fans throughout the tournament, as they won Group A quite handedly. They started off the tournament with a 1-0 win over Ecuador, before playing a thrilling 3-3 draw against Mexico. In the final group stage game they thumped Bolivia 5-0, so Chilean fans have had plenty to celebrate. Star players like Alexis Sanchez and Arturo Vidal has looked incredible and no opponent has been able to close them down and prevent them from dictating play when Chile is on the attack.
In the quarterfinals, Chile went up against Uruguay, and Mauricio Isla scored late in the second half to put Chile in the semifinals. It was another magical night for the Chile fans and players as they were the first host team in the last four tournaments to make it past the quarterfinal stage.
On Monday, the Chileans went up against Peru in the first semifinal. They owned most of the ball against Peru and had several scoring opportunities. Peru came close to taking the lead, but Jefferson Farfan’s header in the ninth minute went off the post.
Instead it was Chile that took the lead in the 42nd minute through Eduardo Vargas. Vargas, 25, is owned by Italian club Napoli, but spent last season on loan in the Premier League with Queens Park Rangers. After a cross by Sanchez from the left side that ended up bouncing off the post, Vargas was there to trickle in the rebound, and sending the fans at Estadio Nacional Julio Martínez Prádanos in Santiago into a frenzy.
Peru tried to push forward in the beginning of the second half, and in the 60th minute they forced an error by Chilean defender Gary Medel. Peru came up the right side and put in a cross that ended up going off Medel and into the net. Medel was clearly distraught over the own goal, but he would be celebrating shortly after as Vargas scored his second of the night just four minutes later.
Medel won the ball in midfield, passed it to Vargas that took a couple of steps and then just blasted it into the back of the net with a thunderous strike. Chile then held on and became the first host nation to reach the final since Colombia in 2001.
Argentina and Paraguay played a 2-2 draw in the group stage as the teams met in the opening round. Argentina had a 2-0 lead in that game at halftime, but Paraguay battled back and tied things up in the second half.
It was a totally different story when the teams met again on Tuesday in the semifinals. Argentina schooled Paraguay and obliterated them 6-1. Lionel Messi had three assists, and Javier Pastore and Angel Di Maria also had a great night. Argentina took an early 1-0 lead after a goal by Marcos Rojo in the 15th minute. The Manchester United defender got the ball in the penalty area after a Messi cross from the left side on a freekick. Rojo was able to get the ball under control and get it past Justo Villar in the Paraguayan net.
Pastore made it 2-0 in the 27th minute. Messi was once against the director and he served Pastore with a great pass down the middle that Pastore made the most out of as he placed the ball behind Villar.
Paraguay had to make two substitutions before halftime, and Lucas Barrios came in to replace Roque Santa Cruz in the 30th minute. He pulled one back for Paraguay in the 43rd minute, which meant that after 45 minutes, Argentina only had a one goal lead.
In the second half, Argentina really kicked it into high gear. Angel Di Maria scored twice in the span of six minutes early in the second half to make it 4-1 Argentina and crushing all hope of another comeback from Paraguay. Sergio Aguero made it 5-1 in the 80th minute, and Gonzalo Higuain finished the scoring in the 83rd minute when he made it 6-1.
Two teams full of confidence will meet up on Saturday in the final, and two heartbroken teams will place each other in the third-placed game on Friday.