There were goals aplenty on the fifth day of Copa América action in Chile as the second round of Group A matches got underway, with Bolivia taking on Ecuador followed by host nation Chile meeting Mexico.
Bolivia continued the shocks in Chile as it recorded a first Copa América victory in 18 years, after seeing off Ecuador 3-2 in a cracking match in Valparaíso. Chile and two-time Copa América finalist Mexico played out the game of the tournament in Santiago later on, sharing the spoils in a thrilling 3-3 draw. The results sees all teams mathematically still in contention to qualify for the quarter-finals, as Chile tops Group A on five points, while Bolivia and Mexico sit in equal second on three points ahead of point-less Ecuador.
The day’s opening match saw 1963 champion Bolivia take on Qustavo Quinteros’ Ecuador at the Estadio Elías Figueroa in Valaparaíso, in a match both sides needed to win. Bolivia took a shock lead just five minutes in, when veteran Ronald Raldes’ header found the net, before La Verde doubled their advantage in the 18th minute through Martin Smedberg-Dalence’s long-range curler. Ecuador was awarded a dubious penalty on 36 minutes, which Enner Valencia would dually dispatch, only for it to be recalled after Miller Bolaños’ encroachment. Valencia missed the resulting retake after opting to shoot the other way, and Bolivia would further rub salt into the wound three minutes before half time when they were awarded a penalty of their own, which Marcelo Martins Moreno coolly slotted to send Mauricio Soria’s men into half time with an astonishing 3-0 lead.
A desperate Ecuador side found the net only three minutes after the restart, when Valencia finally got his goal. He tapped into an empty net after some superb work from Jefferson Montero who wriggled his way through the Bolivian defence to put the chance on a plate for the West Ham striker. Ecuador was unable to muster any real clear-cut chances before Bolaños netted the goal of the tournament so far, unleashing a 30-yard rocket that dipped under the bar nine minutes from time. Christian Noboa nearly scored another long-range stunner to level the scores late on, but cruelly saw his wonderful effort crash against the crossbar, as Bolivia held on to record a famous win.
The evening’s other fixture saw Chile take on two-time finalist Mexico at the Estadio Nacional in Santiago, in a game the hosts needed to win to become the first nation to qualify for the quarter-finals. After a frantic start, Chiapas striker Vicente Vuoso gave Mexico a shock lead 20 minutes in, after rounding off a swift counter-attacking move. However, El Tri‘s lead would be wiped out under a minute later, when Arturo Vidal’s exquisite header found the net to put La Roja on level terms. Raúl Jiménez then put Mexico back in front on the half hour, after his brilliant header looped into the top corner despite Claudio Bravo getting a hand on it. The goals would not stop there though, as Eduardo Vargas brought Chile level again with another sumptuous header three minutes before the break, sending the sides into half time with the scores locked at 2-2, after the best half of football of the tournament thus far.
Jorge Sampaoli’s Chile finally got itself ahead nine minutes after the restart. Gerardo Flores was adjudged to have brought down Vidal in the area and the Juventus star coolly slotted the resulting spot kick past José Corona, and from there on it looked like a lead Chile would only extend. However, only 11 minutes later, a resilient Mexico levelled the scores once again, after a delightful ball over the Chilean defence from Adrián Aldrete picked out Vuoso, who calmly slotted home past the onrushing Bravo. Chile was unlucky to have two brilliant goals from Jorge Valdivia and Alexis Sánchez disallowed through dubious offside calls. Despite both sides scrambling for the winner, the most entertaining game of the tournament to date would ultimately finish 3-3, leaving both sides in good positions to qualify for the next round.