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Pizzi: I’m absolutely delighted

Juan Antonio Pizzi was in an exuberant mood, as he excitedly analysed Chile’s performance following their penalty shoot-out victory over Portugal in Kazan.

“I’m absolutely delighted,” he said. “The team put in a great effort, and despite the lack of goals, I thought it was a cracking match, with all the players on the pitch giving their all. I thought we had more chances overall, like when we hit the woodwork twice at the very end, but neither team, nor any of the players, made any crucial mistakes.

“My players all worked so hard. It was actually difficult to make substitutions because I thought that changing something might undo all their good work. Luckily, Claudio [Bravo] was very impressive during the shoot-out, and our penalty takers did well too, and so I think we deserve to be in the final. We have to keep pushing ourselves to the limit; we can’t let our levels of intensity, focus or effort drop, not even by a little bit, because we can beat anyone when we’re firing on all cylinders.”

The hero of the hour, Chile goalkeeper Claudio Bravo, was a little more restrained in his choice of words. “I want to congratulate the boys,” he said. “Our opponents really pushed us all the way. It was a closely contested match. But this team never gives up; we’re always convinced we’ve got a chance.

“This is a team that should be enjoyed and fussed over, now more than ever. The fans can enjoy themselves, but they shouldn’t celebrate just yet, as we still have the final to play. Our success is the result of our efforts, but also of the intelligence and knowledge of those who work closely with us.”

Portugal coach Fernando Santos, meanwhile, was magnanimous in defeat. “I thought it was a brilliant match between two great teams who both came out determined to win. Generally speaking, it was quite an even game. Chile don’t leave you much space, but we managed to withstand the pressure they put us under. If either team had won it, it would have been a fair result. As it was, it was Chile, and I congratulate them.

“When it came to penalties, their goalkeeper was fantastic. The players who missed today all scored against Poland at UEFA EURO 2016, when they were heroes. Football’s like that – they deserve praise for stepping up, and I must also take responsibility because I asked them to take one.”

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