Carlos Zambrano

Chile 2-1 Peru: Vargas’ wondergoal puts the hosts through to Copa America final (video)

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The Chilean national team has been to the final of the modern-day Copa America just twice in 40 years, but the current La Roja squad, managed by Jorge Sampaoli, booked their place in Saturday’s 2015 Copa America final with a 2-1 semifinal victory over a 10-man Peru side on Monday night. Chile will contest Saturday’s final in their nation’s capital, Santiago.

[ MORE: All of PST’s Copa America coverage ]

Peru came closest to drawing first blood Monday night with fewer than 10 minutes on the clock, as Jefferson Farfan saw his header off Paolo Guerrero’s in-swinging cross bounce off the ground, hit the near post of Chilean goalkeeper Claudio Bravo and carom back into play.

The game completely change in the 20th minute, though, when Peru’s Carlos Zambrano, who was already on a yellow card, was shown a straight red for a high boot into the back of Charles Aranguiz. Replays indicated the the red card was extremely harsh on Zambrano, who made contact with Aranguiz only on his follow-through of a long clearance.

[ QUARTERFINALS: Argentina 0-0 (5-4 PKs) Colombia | Brazil 1-1 (3-4 PKs) Paraguay ]

Chile broke through in the 42nd minute, when Eduardo Vargas slotted home a rebound off Alexis Sanchez’s dangerous effort which had bounced off the far post and back into the field of play. Sanchez’s shot, which originally began as a cross, hit the left-hand post of Pedro Gallese and fell to the feet of Vargas inside the six-yard box, and the former Queens Park Rangers attacker’s slow roller found its way over the goal line.

Peru equalized right on the hour mark, when Gary Medel poked Luis Advincula’s right-sided cross into his own goal to finish a quick Peruvian counter attack.

[ MORE: Previewing Argentina vs. Paraguay in semifinal no. 2 ]

The level scoreline was to be short-lived, though, as Vargas bagged his second goal of the game just four minutes later. Dribbling towards Peru’s goal, 25 yards out, Vargas unleashed a blast that at first looked destined for the 15th row of the stands in the background, but quickly dipped and made a beeline for the back of the net just inside the far post. Very likely the goal of the tournament.

Chile will face the winner of the second semifinal between Argentina and Paraguay on Tuesday, where La Roja will play for the first South American Championship/Copa America title in their federation’s 120-year history.