Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Copa America Centenario Day 4: Argentina makes statement in win over Chile

Panama 2-1 Bolivia
Panama got contributions from their most prolific player, Blas Perez on their way to a late win over Bolivia. Blas Perez opened the scoring in the 11th minute with a wonderful sliding shot off a cross. Bolivia would not find their equalizer until the second half when Juan Arce bagged one in the 54th minute. The game took on an aggressive tone after the levelling goal. Six of the match's seven yellow cards would be shown between just before the goal and the 80th minute. Blas Perez would strike again on an 87th minute Panamanian counter that caught the Bolivian keeper well out of his net and leaving it wide open for Perez to hammer home the winner.

Argentina 2-1 Chile
Argentina are the number one ranked team in the world, but Chile is not too far behind them at five, and they got the better of the best in the world in last summer's Copa America final. Although Argentina would be without an injured Lionel Messi, it turns out they would not need the best player in the world all that much.

As you would expect from a pair of teams of this caliber, the first half was mostly about feeling each other out. There was some aggression of fouls as three yellows went out in the first half. The chances were limited to free kicks from distance as neither side wanted to risk too much in the penalty area out of fear of getting caught out against one of the many speedy attackers on the pitch.

One of those speedy attackers came to life in the 51st minute when Angel Di Maria capped off a wonderful counter attack off a midfield turnover with a well placed shot tucked inside the near post. Despite a solid, but wasted chance by Chile, a more patient maneuver in the 59th minute would double the Argentinian lead. Di Maria turned provider for Ever Banega's deflected shot off Mauricio Isla and inside the near post.

Argentine took the two goal lead as a chance to tighten up and prevent Chile from getting anything done in the penalty area. It worked like a charm. There was no space for Chile's creators to work and they were prevented from finding any real chances at goal until seconds before the final whistle. A free kick and header by Jose Fuenzalida three minutes into three minutes of stoppage time pulled a goal back, but the match ended right after the ensuing kickoff.

Today's results put Panama and Argentina tied atop Group D at the conclusion of the first stage of group play. The two leaders take each other on on Friday night in Chicago.

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