Chile defender Mauricio Isla scores as Chile beats Uruguay to reach Copa America semifinals 
Mauricio Isla gets the ball past Uruguay defenders in the 81st minute at the National Stadium in Santiago. AP

SANTIAGO, Chile — Chile's hopes of winning its home Copa America were kept alive on Wednesday (Thursday, Manila time) thanks to a 1-0 win over defending champion Uruguay.

Defender Mauricio Isla scored an 81st-minute winner to lead the hosts to the semifinals of the South American tournament.

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 tournament's semifinals for the first time in 16 years.

Chile will play the winner of Thursday's match between Bolivia and Peru. In the other quarterfinal matchups, Argentina plays Colombia and Brazil faces Paraguay.

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. Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez also was sent off.

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 on penalties.

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 — 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.

"It was difficult, we knew what we were up against, we knew that Uruguay is used to playing in these situations, we knew that it wasn't going to be easy," said Chile goalkeeper and captain Claudio Bravo. "We had the patience to score, we had the patience to control the game."


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.

A draw would've sent the match into a penalty shootout.

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.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @LuisAndresHenao