By Luis Andres Henao, AP
SANTIAGO, Chile–Defender Mauricio Isla scored an 81st-minute winner to help host Chile defeat defending champion Uruguay 1-0 and advance to the semifinals of the Copa America on Wednesday.
Chile dominated the game from the start and Isla finally broke the deadlock with a low shot from just inside the area after a pass by Jorge Valdivia, advancing his team to the semifinals of the South American tournament for the first time in 16 years.
Uruguay, trying to make it to the semifinals for the sixth-straight time, played a man down from the 63rd after star striker Edinson Cavani was shown his second yellow card of the match for apparently slapping a Chilean player away from the ball. His first yellow was for complaining with the linesman in the 30th.
Uruguay lost another player in the 88th, when defender Jorge Fucile also was sent off for a second yellow. Uruguayan players loudly complained with Brazilian referee Sandro Ricci and his linesman, and the game was stopped for nearly five minutes.
The Uruguayans were already without Barcelona striker Luis Suarez, who was banned from the tournament for biting Italian Giorgio Chiellini at the World Cup last year.
Chile is trying to win the Copa America for the first time and is considered one of the main title favorites thanks to a ��Golden Generation�� of players that include Valdivia, Arturo Vidal, Alexis Sanchez and Claudio Bravo. It reached the last 16 at the World Cup in Brazil last year, being eliminated by the hosts.
Chile hadn’t made it to the Copa America semifinals since the 1999 tournament in Paraguay.
The last time Uruguay failed to advance past the quarterfinals was in the 1997 tournament in Bolivia. Uruguay had eliminated the hosts in the quarterfinals of the last two editions of the Copa America �X Argentina in 2011 and Venezuela in 2007.
Chile attacked from the start at the Estadio Nacional Julio Martinez, with Uruguay relying on its solid defense and trying to find spaces to counterattack. Although Chile kept possession, it struggled to get many shots on goal.
Isla’s winner came after Uruguay goalkeeper Fernando Muslera tried to clear a cross into the area and the ball went straight to Valdivia. The playmaker quickly passed it to Isla, who touched it forward and fired the low shot through defenders and into the right corner.
Chile came into the match with the Copa America’s best offense with 10 goals, twice as many as any other team.
The match happened the same day Chilean authorities said Vidal will face additional charges for insulting police officers after crashing his Ferrari while driving drunk last week. He initially had his driver’s license suspended for four months, but was allowed to stay with the team in the Copa America. Vidal entered the quarterfinals as the tournament’s top scorer with three goals.
Chile made it to the tournament’s final four times, but not since 1987 in Argentina, when it lost 1-0 to Uruguay, the Copa America’s most successful nation with 15 titles, one more than Argentina.