June 29, 2017
FIFA Confederations Cup 2017: Chile To Face Mexico Or Germany In Finals As Bravo Blanks Portugal In Shootout

Cristiano Ronaldo tried to put Portugal over the hump during Portugal's semifinals match against Chile at the Confederations Cup 2017 in Kazan, Russia. Chile held Portugal to a scoreless draw after 120 minutes of back-and-forth football and in the end, the Real Madrid superstar didn't even get the chance as Chile's Claudio Bravo blanked Portugal in the ensuing penalty shootout.

It was a match that lived up to the billing with both sides fielding its marquee players. Portugal is considered one of the favorites to win the Confederations Cup 2017 even with Ronaldo lining up with a relatively young core. According to the L.A. Times, Chile won two consecutive Copa America titles, indicating that Chile is no pushover as evidenced by their solid outings in various international competitions this year. Both sides are well-equipped to make it rain goals and few believed that the match would go to a penalty shootout as both Chile and Portugal came out firing.

Andre Gomes started the festivities at the two-minute with a shot that went straight to Claudio Bravo. Four minutes later, Chile's Alexis Sanchez found Vargas who sent his shot straight to Portugal's keeper, Rui Patricio. Portugal almost scored a minute later after Andre Silva, receiving a great pass from Cristiano Ronaldo, chipped in a shot that was saved by Bravo. It was more of the same the remainder of the first half, with both sides creating and failing to finish at the goal.

Andres Gomes and Arturo Vidal lined up against each other during the semifinals match between Portugal and Chile.
Portugal's Andres Gomes and Chile's Arturo Vidal fight for the ball during their 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup semifinals match at the Kazan Arena, Russia, Wednesday. [Image by Dmitri Lovetsky/AP Images]

The second half began with the same intensity of the opening minutes of the first half as both sides attacked at every opportunity. As the match went on, Chile relied heavily on Bravo to fend off Portugal's barrage while his side seemingly lost all inspiration. After a relatively sub-par game, Andre Silva was replaced by Nani who moved to third all-time in international appearance for Portugal. Perhaps thinking of a possible penalty shootout, Portugal coach Fernando Santos inserted Ricardo Quaresma in the line up for Bernardo Silva. At the end of 90 minutes, the score remained level at 0-0 and it's starting to look like that both sides are winded.

At the three-minute mark of the first half of extra time, Portugal's Andre Gomes had an opportunity to put his side a goal up and again failed to finish it. Bravo followed up with another brilliant save to keep the score level. At this point, Chile has used only one of their four substitutions, and it's no wonder that their side looks tired. Portugal looks poised to get a goal in the next few minutes but failed to do so.

As expected, the second half of extra time carried a flurry of activity. Chile's Francisco Silva, who just came on for Hernandez, got a huge opportunity with only Portugal's goalkeeper to beat. Jose Fonte frantically defends to stop Silva. Silva went down in the ensuing play having been tripped by Fonte, a clear case for a penalty. But the referee says play on. Nonetheless, Chile seems to be in total control of the game, creating shots on goal one after another but was unlucky, hitting the cross-bar at one point.

Claudi Bravo dives to save Nani's penalty shot.
Chile's Claudio Bravo saves Nani's shot during the penalty shootout. [Image by Ian Walton/Getty Images]

And just like that, a frantic 120 minutes of football is over and sets up Bravo's heroics. The Manchester City goalkeeper has faced the best the game has to offer and never waivered. Perhaps drawing inspiration from his face-off against Lionel Messi, Bravo performed at his best during this shootout. Incidentally, Messi missed his penalty in Chile's win over Argentina, probably the main reason why Magician retired in international play only to come back later.

Chile got the first crack on goal and Arturo Vidal puts the ball on the top left. Quaresma lined up for Portugal only to have his shot saved by Bravo. Charles Aranguiz scored the second penalty goal for Chile, going low and hard and slightly of the middle. Bravo made another great save, catching Joao Moutinho's scorcher. Sanchez scored the third goal, sending the ball in the bottom left section. To give the Portugal a chance to salvage the game, Nani steps up to the penalty box but blew his opportunity, missing his shot. And so just like that, Chile advances to the Confederations Cup 2017 finals, and the celebrated Cristiano Ronaldo didn't even get the chance to save his team.

Going up against the best strikers in the world one-on-one in the biggest stage is both a goalkeeper's dream and nightmare. If they failed, and they would fail more often than not, all the blame is on the keeper. However, if they succeed, the keeper would be covered in glory. And glory Bravo did receive.

Chile's victory over Portugal enabled La Roja to set up a finals date against the winner of Mexico and Germany semifinals match.

[Featured Image by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images]