THE DAY REPLAYED. Chile fought back to beat Panama 4-2 and clinch second place in Group D of the 2016 Copa America Centenario. With a total of six points, La Roja finished three adrift of section winners Argentina and will now meet Group C victors Mexico in the quarter-finals.
Later in the day, Argentina and Bolivia rounded off a group phase that yielded a total of 69 goals and which saw the elimination of the likes of Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay and Costa Rica. Comprehensive 3-0 winners against the Bolivians, La Albiceleste will take on Venezuela in the last eight.
The day’s results
Chile 4-2 Panama
Argentina 3-0 Bolivia
Chile and Panama both stepped out with designs on advancing to the knockout stage. The Central Americans got the better of the early exchanges, with Miguel Camargo putting them ahead with a long-range drive five minutes in.
Maintaining their focus and sticking to their brand of direct and dynamic football, Chile absorbed the blow and pulled level just ten minutes later, Eduardo Vargas slotting home a loose ball after Panama keeper Jaime Penedo could only parry Arturo Vidal’s low drive. A second Vargas goal and two from Alexis Sanchez smoothed the Chileans’ path to the quarters.
In the final group match of the competition, Argentina put three past Bolivia without reply to complete their flawless group campaign. Showcasing their attacking prowess once more, La Albiceleste dictated the pace and were relatively untroubled at the back.
Erik Lamela, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Victor Cuesta were the men on target for the Argentinians, with all the goals coming in a 20-minute period in the first half. That triple salvo took La Albiceleste’s group-phase goal tally to ten. Conceding just one at the other end, the Argentinians are the only side in the competition to have won all their group games. The last time they scored nine points out of nine was at the 2007 Copa America.
Debuts do not come much better than the one Cuesta enjoyed for Argentina on Tuesday. His side were two goals to the good when Ezequiel Lavezzi picked up possession just outside the box and fired in a low cross-shot that the new boy turned into the back of the net.
The centre-half, who plays his club football for Independiente de Avellaneda, savoured the moment, celebrating his strike in ecstatic fashion. Having made a winning, goalscoring start to his international career on a night when his side sealed top spot in Group D, Cuesta was entitled to feel pleased with himself.
33 - the number of goals Alexis Sanchez has now scored for Chile, following his brace against Panama. The Arsenal forward lies one behind Ivan Zamorano and four adrift of Marcelo Salas on the list of La Roja’s all-time leading goalscorers.
What they said
“Venezuela are a very good side. Now we’ve got the added pressure of games in which it’s a case of win or you’re out. The fact Brazil and Uruguay have gone home doesn’t change anything for us, as we always strive to keep on improving. It’s a different kind of competition now, and if Venezuela try to man-mark Messi, we’ll try to counter that by playing him as a centre-forward.” Argentina
coach Gerardo Martino