Alexis Off the Mark in the Copa America as Chile Thrash Bolivia
Arturo Vidal was in the headlines for all the wrong reasons when he crashed his Ferrari while on the influence of alcohol but he was released from police custody and many wondered if he was going to be in the right frame of mind heading into what proved to be an all-important clash for Chile. Many Chilean fans were also happy to see Alexis Sanchez start the game despite a pre-match scare that he was suffering from muscle fatigue.
With just three minutes after kickoff, Chile showed that they meant real business when Charles Aranguiz latched on to Eduardo Vargas controlled ball to hand the hosts the lead with a well-taken placed effort. It’s also worth noting that it was Chile’s first opportunity of the match. Vargas must be commended for leaving two defenders for dead with his control of the ball, as well as allowing Aranguiz to do the right damage.
With three matches already gone, Alexis would have been itching to get on the scoring board and he must have been very disappointed when his free kick clipped the post and went wide. Things seemed to go from bad to worse from the Arsenal marksman as he fired another dead ball that hit the woodwork yet again. Sanchez finally got the goal he deserved when he launched a counter attack and fed Jorge Valdivia that dwelled on the ball before dinking it back to Alexis. The maverick connected to the ball with a flying header and that was enough to beat the goalie for his first goal in the tournament.
At half time, Chile’s gaffer, Jorge Sampaoli, took off Sanchez and Vidal, with the game already set in the bag and Chile odds on to end as group winners. Alexis replacement, Angelo Henriquez, provided a neat cut back on the byline that arrived straight at Aranguiz feet. His first touch allowed him to evade his marker and with the goalie closing down on him, he reacted quickly to fire the ball into the net to make it three. Now Aranguiz was on a hat-trick.
Chile’s fourth goal came from the most unlikeliest of sources, the Pitbull, Gary Medel. The center half left his defensive duties and made a rear foray forward. Valdivia located him with a clever over-the-top pass, leaving Medel one on one with the goalie. The defender showed off the composure of a center forward as he chested the ball before chipping the hapleess Romel Quinonez to make it four goals to the good. The final goal of the match was rather embarrassing as Henriquez went to the byline again and drilled a ball that was guided to the net by Bolivia’s Ronald Raldes. Yes, it was an own goal but the quality was up there with goal really good strikes.
With Chile running out as 5 – 0 winners coupled with Mexico’s surprise 2 – 1 loss to whipping boys, Ecuador, Chile and Bolivia still made it to the knockout stages as the winner and runner-up of Group A.
Elsewhere, Neymar’s Copa America is over as the Brazilian sensation was slapped with a four-match ban for his altercation on Pablo Armero in the aftermath of Brazil’s loss to Colombia. He was also given a $10,000 fine while fellow culprit, Carlos Bacca, was given a two-match ban for his shove on Neymar in the wake of the altercation.
There’s going to be a repeat of the last edition’s final as Uruguay take on Paraguay and I’d brace myself to see enough goals when Argentina plays Jamaica.
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