Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Copa America Centenario Day 12: Chile, Argentina cruise to quarterfinals

Chile 4-2 Panama
The winner of this match would make it into the quarterfinals. Chile were the heavy favorites, but that meant nothing to the little CONCACAF underdogs. Panama went in front in the opening five minutes after a Chile turnover and a long shot from Miguel Camargo that Claudio Bravo certainly wants to have back. They would not hold the lead for very long. A Chilean attack in the 15th minute would cut through the Panamanian defense like nothing and Eduardo Vargas would bang home a rebound to tie the score. It was just about all Chile from that point until half time. Save for a few Panama counters, Chile was in firm control and got their second goal in the 43rd minute on a Vargas header.

The second half was just as open as the first. Chile controlled the ball a lot and were rewarded when Alexis Sanchez added their third of the night in the 50th minute. Despite getting owned all over the pitch, Panama managed to get one against the run of play in the 75th from Abdiel Arroyo, but that wouldn't get them anywhere. Sanchez scored his second half brace in the 89th minute to seal this one off and send Chile to the quarterfinals with a second place Group D finish.

Argentina 2-0 Bolivia
By the time this match kicked off, Argentina had already won Group D and Bolivia had already been eliminated. That being said, Lionel Messi was sitting on the bench in the utterly meaningless match. Even without him, they got off to a hot start. A deflected Erik Lamela free kick opened the scoring in the 13th minute and Ezequiel Lavezzi doubled the advantage two minutes later. Victor Cuesta made it three in the 32nd. Argentina, who were firmly in control anyway, were plenty alright coasting out of the group stage with a perfect record after that. They owned this match by outshooting Bolivia 14-3 and controlling 87% of possession. To reward the 45,000+ in attendance, Messi was brought on as a halftime sub, but he didn't snare a hat trick like he did last match.

With that, the group stage of Copa America is complete. After a quick day off, the quarterfinals begin Wednesday night in Seattle when Group A winners USA takes on Ecuador, who came in second in Group B.

Full quarterfinals schedule:
Thursday, 9:30pm- USA v. Ecuador in Seattle, WA
Friday, 8pm- Peru v. Colombia in East Rutherford, NJ
Saturday, 7pm- Argentina v. Venezuela in Foxborough, MA
Saturday, 10pm- Mexico v. Chile in Santa Clara, CA

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