BY AFP

(L to R) Chile’s Erick Pulgar, Brazil’s Neymar and Chile’s Arturo Vidal vie for the ball during their Conmebol 2021 Copa America football tournament quarter-final match at the Nilton Santos Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on July 2, 2021. (Photo by CARL DE SOUZA / AFP)

Lucas Paqueta’s second-half strike was enough for defending champions Brazil to hold off determined Chile 1-0 on Friday and book a Copa America semi-final showdown with Peru.

Second-half substitute Paqueta made an instant impact, finding a gap in Chile’s defense and firing into the back of the net in the 47th minute to put Brazil up 1-0.

Less than two minutes later, however, Brazil were reduced to 10 men when Gabriel Jesus’s reckless high kick caught Eugenio Mena in the face and drew a straight red card.

Chile couldn’t capitalize on the man advantage, no matter they how hard they tried.

Eduardo Vargas thought he’d grabbed the equalizer in the 62nd with a close-range shot, but VAR confirmed the offside call was correct.

In the 69th, Mena’s cross from the left found Ben Brereton, whose looping header had Brazilian goalkeeper Ederson wrong-footed but caromed off the crossbar.

Ederson came up with another big save in the 78th as Chile battled desperately for an equalizer. Carlos Palacios went for broke five minutes into injury time with an attempt from the top of the box that sailed over the crossbar.

Brazil’s best first-half chance came after 20 minutes, when Neymar found Roberto Firmino at Claudio Bravo’s far post, but the Liverpool striker couldn’t convert.

Ederson was soon called on and dived right to save a shot from Vargas after the Chilean striker shook off Thiago Silva.

Jesus, played in by Neymar, nearly fired Brazil ahead shortly before halftime but Chilean keeper Claudio Bravo tipped his shot over the bar.

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