Chile held, Bo­livia up­set Ecuador in Copa Amer­ica goal ex­trav­a­ganza

The China Post - - SPORTS - BY MIGUEL SANCHEZ

Mexico snatched a pul­sat­ing 3-3 draw with Chile while Bo­livia downed Ecuador in a five-goal thriller as the Copa Amer­ica laid on a feast of at­tack­ing football on Mon­day.

A dra­matic day of ac­tion in Group A saw Bo­livia se­cure their first win in the tour­na­ment in 18 years with a 3-2 vic­tory over Ecuador in Val­paraiso be­fore an epic bat­tle be­tween Chile and Mexico in San­ti­ago.

Chile, 2-0 win­ners over Ecuador in their open­ing game, looked to have booked their place in the quar­ter-fi­nals af­ter two goals from Ju­ven­tus star Ar­turo Vi­dal helped them into a 3-2 lead.

But a 66th-minute equal­izer from Vi­cente Vu­oso, his sec­ond of the match, earned a share of the points for Mexico, who are one of two teams from out­side South Amer­ica in­vited to take part in this year’s tour­na­ment.

Vu­oso had given Mexico the lead af­ter only 21 min­utes, tuck­ing away Juan Car­los Me­d­ina’s cross af­ter a sweep­ing coun­ter­at­tack, only for Vi­dal to level a minute later with a thun­der­ous header.

Mexico grabbed the lead again on 29 min­utes when Atletico Madrid striker Raul Jimenez headed home Adrian Al­drete’s cor­ner to make it 2-1.

Chile again hit back rapidly how­ever with Ed­uardo Var­gas equal­iz­ing shortly be­fore the break.

Vi­dal then struck a 55th-minute penalty to put Chile ahead for the first time in the match, only for Vu­oso to frus­trate the home side with his sec­ond.

Chile had what looked like a le­git­i­mate Alexis Sanchez goal ruled out for off­side with 10 min­utes to go as Mexico sur­vived a late on­slaught to claim a share of the points.

Chile now top Group A on goal dif­fer­ence as they pre­pare to meet Bo­livia in their fi­nal first round match on Fri­day.

Vi­dal: ‘We must im­prove’

Man- of- the- match Vi­dal said ‘ La Roja’ would need to im­prove to be sure of win­ning the group.

“There are sev­eral things we need to im­prove if we want to beat Bo­livia, but the im­por­tant thing is we im­proved on our per­for­mance from the first match to­day,” Vi­dal said.

“It’s nice to be scor­ing goals for the team, but the most im­por­tant thing is our ob­jec­tive to be cham­pi­ons,” he added.

Bo­livia, who have a for­mi­da­ble record when play­ing at home in the thin air of La Paz, se­cured their first vic­tory on for­eign soil in a com­pet­i­tive match in 20 years when they beat Ecuador ear­lier Mon­day.

The win was also Bo­livia’s first in the Copa Amer­ica since 1997, and means they are now firmly in con­tention to qual­ify for the sec­ond round.

Bo­livia as­sured them­selves of vic­tory in the open­ing 45 min- utes, pun­ish­ing a se­ries of mis­takes by Ecuador to race into a 3-0 lead.

Vet­eran cap­tain Ron­ald Raldes opened the scor­ing, tak­ing ad­van­tage of poor mark­ing by Ecuador to stoop low and head home a cor­ner from Swedish­born midfielder Martin Smed­berg- Da­lence in the fifth minute.

Smed­berg- Da­lence turned goalscorer in the 18th minute to put Bo­livia 2-0 up, curl­ing home a su­perb shot from the edge of the area.

A bizarre se­quence of events ul­ti­mately saw Bo­livia go 3-0 up. En­ner Va­len­cia was awarded a du­bi­ous penalty for Ecuador which he duly con­verted be­fore be­ing or­dered to take it again af­ter Miller Bolanos en­croached in the area.

Bo­livia goal­keeper Romel Quinonez then saved the sec­ond at­tempt and mo­ments later the ta­bles were turned on Ecuador when Frick­son Erazo con­ceded a spot-kick for a rash high boot on Damian Lizio.

China-based striker Marcelo Martins stepped up to make it 3-0.

There ap­peared to be no way back for Ecuador but Va­len­cia struck early in the sec­ond half to give his side hope and Bolanos lashed in a stun­ning 25-yard ef­fort on 81 min­utes to set up a fran­tic fi­nale.

But Bo­livia keeper Quinonez was equal to the on­slaught as the min­nows held on for a fa­mous win.

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