DAILY MAIL 🔵 Colombia cling on to 1-0 win over Uruguay in Copa America semifinal – Shango Media
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DAILY MAIL 🔵 Colombia cling on to 1-0 win over Uruguay in Copa America semifinal

One form of pre-match excitement from Colombia fans became very prophetic on Wednesday night.

Fireworks before the match, and during it.

With a Copa America final berth on the line, tempers flared as Colombia barely clung on to a 1-0 win vs. Uruguay, playing the entire second half down a man but with a sea of yellow-clad supporters behind them in Charlotte.

The on-field action was captivating in of itself.

Luis Diaz wowed with a few mazy runs, Darwin Nunez had a night to forget (in several ways) and Jefferson Lerma notched the only goal for Colombia, who will now face Argentina in this weekend’s final.

Liverpool's Darwin Nunez had a brutal night as he missed several great chances to score

And tempers flared in the match, as James Rodriguez angrily confronted a referee

But this night – one where Nunez fought Colombia fans after the match – was about more than just tactical duels or team shape. 

That was evident when Luis Suarez, after smashing the post with a second-half attempt, collapsed to the floor or when Federico Valverde punched the ground after one of several Nunez misses on the night.

One Colombian reporter even recited a quick prayer in Spanish before kick off, as a massive army of yellow filled the stands at Bank of America Stadium.

The aforementioned Nunez chance on 28 minutes, which he blazed over the bar after ignoring Valverde’s run on the right, actually serves as a neat microcosm for the night: the frenetic, end-to-end play was matched – and at times overshadowed – by the fervent emotions that pulsated in a humid Charlotte.

Several turning points in the match were driven by emotion, rather than say, poor positioning or an undercooked pass. 

Daniel Munoz earned a second yellow card for a foolish elbow on Manuel Ugarte right before halftime, condemning his team to playing a man down, while James Rodriguez raged at a referee on 55 minutes after play continued with an injured Richard Rios crumpled in the opposite corner.

At the next dead ball, Rodriguez sprinted towards the referee and got in his face, and was subsequently booked. 

The yellow didn’t do much damage, but the moment of madness saw Uruguay soon creep back in the game, one which had 24 fouls, one dismissal and several instances of star man Diaz being hacked to the ground.

Daniel Munoz reacts as Uruguay's Manuel Ugarte grimaces in pain after he was elbowed by Munoz

Crystal Palace's Jefferson Lerma notched the lone goal for Colombia, who are now in the final

Up a man after Lerma headed home for Colombia in the 39th minute (with Munoz coming close with another header minutes later), Marcelo Bielsa’s Uruguay pounded their opponents’ goal with pressure in the second half.

In fact, you may have thought – based on the crowd’s horrified reaction – that Colombia were losing or tied when Mateus Uribe missed two gilded chances for the eventual winners after coming on late.

That is the sort of fear that Colombia were operating with down the stretch, as their emotional high from the first half became negated.

After a first 45 that saw Nunez miss three opportunities, including one right in the center of the box that he somehow pulled wide, he again saw a chance go begging when the ball got stuck in his feet in one second half sequence near the goal, before Colombia’s Camilo Vargas made a fairly miraculous diving save in the 68th minute.

There was a (discarded) penalty shout too, and more memorably a chance that the ever-lethal Suarez spurned from close in the 71st minute, as he smashed the post from slightly right of center.

The miss caused him to fall to the ground in anguish, before Valverde whizzed a shot wide minutes later. Still, Colombia were reeling and surprisingly open for a team playing with a lead and down a man.

Colombia fans flocked to Las Paisas restaurant for lunch ahead of the big match

Both of Uribe’s chances came on the break as 10-man Colombia gambled with their luck and nearly paid the price. 

His first miss in the 88th minute was hit wide from point-blank range after Kevin Castano put it on a platter for him, and the second – which was even harder to miss – somehow ricocheted off of Rochet onto the bar.

Uruguay kept pushing – Maximiliano Araujo nearly punished Uribe’s wastefulness a minute later – but they ultimately came up short.

Colombia are now 28 games unbeaten after suffering for much of the second half, and will face Argentina on Sunday for a chance at their second Copa America crown.

The result will be a hard pillow to swallow for Nunez, who flubbed his lines on several occasions for Uruguay – and later disgraced himself by fighting a fan in the stands.

That ugly incident, which also saw the likes of Jose Gimenez and Ronald Araujo enter the crowd, marred what had been an exciting and positive buildup to the match.

Rodriguez emotionally celebrated Colombia's win on Wednesday night in Charlotte

Colombian fans in Cali, Colombia were thrilled to see their team advance to the final too

Colombian fans have traveled well this tournament and that was no different here in North Carolina, as they lined the streets before the game and, admittedly, vastly outnumbered the Uruguayan support.

Local Colombian restaurant Las Paisas said fans had been waiting up to an hour to sit for lunch at the bustling spot, whose waiters were all clad in Colombia jerseys.

The restaurant had turned out to be an apt meeting point for Colombia fans, and both they and their Uruguayan counterparts seemed to coexist just fine before the match, as fans sung and played small sided soccer games on the street.

That camaraderie, though, was nowhere to be seen between the teams once the 90 minutes began in Charlotte.

Expect the same sort of hostility on the field in Miami.

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