Chile rout Bolivia to finish 1st in its Copa group
Charles Aranguiz scored twice and Alexis Sanchez added another goal on Friday to help Copa America host Chile defeat Bolivia 5-0 and advance from the group stage in first place.
Bolivia also secured a spot in the quarterfinals of the South American tournament despite the rout, finishing second in Group A. Chile reached seven points, three more than Bolivia and four more than Ecuador, which earlier Friday defeated Mexico 2-1. Mexico was eliminated with two points.
Ecuador can still advance depending on other results. The top two teams in each of the three groups advance to the quarterfinals, in addition to the two-best third-place finishers.
By advancing in first place, Chile gets to stay in Santiago for the quarterfinals, while Bolivia will head to Temuco.
“To beat the great teams that we will face from now on, the only chance we have is to play the way we played today,” Chile coach Jorge Sampaoli said. “We scored five times, and the team has to keep prioritizing the attack, but we also need to have some balance when we face a tougher opponent than we faced today.”
It is the first time in five Copa America editions that Bolivia has advanced from the group stage.
“It was wonderful to be able to advance,” Bolivia coach Mauricio Soria said. “Now it’s time to focus on our next opponent and try to continue making history, because we believe we can.”
Aranguiz opened the scoring a with a right-footed shot from inside the area less than three minutes into the match at the Estadio Nacional Julio Martinez, and Sanchez scored his first goal of the tournament in the 37th, heading in a right-side cross by playmaker Jorge Valdivia. Just a few minutes earlier Sanchez had struck the post with a well-struck free kick shot.
Aranguiz scored his second goal from close range in the 66th, and Gary Medel added to the lead with a shot over Bolivia goalkeep- er Romel Quinonez in the 79th after another set up by Valdivia.
Ronaldo Raldes’ own goal in the 86th closed the scoring.
Chile star midfielder Arturo Vidal got to play only three days after crashing his car while driving under the influence of alcohol. Vidal had his driver’s license seized after the Tuesday night accident in the outskirts of Santiago, but coach Sampaoli decided to keep the Juventus midfielder on the squad for the rest of the South American tournament.
Vidal’s crash made front-page headlines across the country this week, with many Chileans showing their support to the player and others punishment.
Chile is trying to win the Copa America for the first time and is considered a title favorite thanks to a “Golden Generation” of players that include Vidal, Sanchez, Valdivia and Claudio Bravo.
Bolivia won the South American tournament in 1963 and finished second in 1997, both times at home. It lost the 1997 final 3-1 to a Brazilian team led by striker Ronaldo and defensive midfielder Dunga, Brazil’s current coach.
Chile and Bolivia hadn’t met in the Copa America since the 1995 tournament, when they drew 2-2 in Uruguay.
Chile’s Eduardo Vargas, second from left, falls after an attempt to score as Bolivia’s goalkeeper Romel Quinonez grabs the ball during a Copa America Group A soccer match at El Nacional stadium in Santiago, Chile on Friday, June 19.