Santiago, June 25 (IANS) Chile coach Jorge Sampaoli has hailed his team’s Copa America quarter-final win against Uruguay as a “defining moment” as they confirmed their place in the semi-finals courtesy of a solitary Mauricio Isla goal.
The hosts have been able to beat Uruguay on the last three occasions they faced them in the South American showpiece in 1999, 2007 and 2011 and Sampaoli was aware of the significance of the victory against them for his side’s chances of lifting the trophy in Santiago on July 4.
“Beating Uruguay is a defining moment and an important step because Uruguay at this stage are difficult for any team,” he said after the Chilean win on Wednesday.
“Chile won against a difficult team who were never resigned to the option of a draw. We beat very good opponents and played well, despite failing to create a lot of chances in relation to the domination we enjoyed. The game went as we expected. If we didn’t score early, it would be complicated.”
Right-back Isla has been in fine form at the Copa America and Sampaoli praised the 27-year-old for his impact.
“In all four games he’s played, Isla was decisive in attack and defence. I am happy with his evolution and the level he’s at,” he said.
Edinson Cavani was dismissed just past the hour mark for Uruguay after a clash with Gonzalo Jara and Sampaoli pinpointed that moment as a turning point in the match.
“We knew we were in for a hard game so long as it remained scoreless. We tried to find the right formula. We wanted to generated changes. With the red card, we got on top,” he said.
Chile enjoyed great backing from a partisan home support and Sampaoli recognised the impact the crowd can have on their chances of glory.
“Emotionally, the players are each to their own,” he said.
“They are with their public, with their people, playing a very difficult Copa America. I really value what they group has done.
“The Estadio Nacional stadium, for us, makes us feel at home. It’s a plus because the thrust of the people compels us to have the position we now have.”
Chile will play their semi-final against either Peru or Bolivia at Estadio Nacional on Monday.