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Copa America 2016: Vargas, Sanchez Brace Leads Chile Into Quarter-Finals As They Beat Panama 4-2

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Chile conceded early but a brace each for Eduardo Vargas and Alexis Sanchez sealed their spot in the quarter-finals as they beat Panama 4-2 in the Centenario Copa America 2016 Group D encounter at Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia on Tuesday.

Chile started on a positive note and tried to dominate possession in the initial minutes and looked to build the game through the middle with occasional runs down the flanks.

However a blunder from Claudio Bravo gave Panama an early lead in the 5th minute. Panama found space through the right and Camargo rushed in from a quick counter-attack before launching a thunderous strike from about 30 yards straight to the bottom right corner to beat the goalkeeper. The ball dipped in front of Bravo, who tried to thump it away but he fumbled and saw it go into the back of the net.

Chile grew more threatening in attack and put more bodies forward as they desperately searched for an equaliser.

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Vargas scored the equaliser in the 15th minute to bring back Chile into the game. A fine move from Chile allowed Sanchez to get into the area, who fired a shot at goal but Penedo managed to keep it out. The rebound picked Vargas in the danger area, who tapped it in from close range to the bottom right corner.

Chile almost scored the second in the 22nd minute from a Arturo Vidal header. Beausejour whipped in a clinical cross down the left to find Vidal inside the box. Vidal got on the end of the cross and launched a headed effort towards the far post but Penedo went full stretch and managed to keep it out with an acrobatic effort.

Both Sanchez and Vargas maintained the pressure on the Panama as they worked the ball through the middle in search of space inside the box. Panama played way too deep with 5 defenders and 3 midfielders in front of them.However Chile managed to threaten them down the wings repeatedly.

Vargas scored his second of the evening in the 43rd minute to put Chile on the driving seat. Beausejour managed to find space down the left and whipped in a perfect cross to pick Vargas who came charging into the box before thumping in a header into the bottom corner to beat the goalkeeper.

Panama had a golden opportunity to pull one back right after the restart. Fuenzalida’s right footed shot from the left side of the box was close, but went inche wide to the right.

Arsenal midfielder Alexis Sanchez doubled the lead for Chile in the 5oth minute from a sensational volley. A quick build-up allowed Vargas to rush into the final third and he whipped in a decisive cross to feed Alexis Sanchez, who lashed a thunderous volley into the top corner to beat the goalkeeper.

Vidal’s well timed effort from 25 yards in the 62nd minute almost found the net but Penedo managed to get a hand to it at the far post.

Panama worked hard and came close to score in few occasions but they lacked the finishing. They created chances but couldn’t live up to the occasion.

Chile managed to keep maximum possession in the dying minutes as they worked the ball in circles all over the pitch with Panama struggling to win the ball back.

However Panama managed to score their second and thanks to another blunder form Bravo in the 75th minute. Arroyo got on the end of a free-kick and charged a header straight at Bravo, who failed to keep it out and worked the ball into his own net at the near post.

Sanchez scored his second in the 89th minute to put the game into bed. Fuenzalida sent in a clinical cross to find Sanchez, who thumped in a header towards the bottom corner to beat the goalkeeper.

Chile will lock heads against Mexico in the quarter-finals, while Panama goes out of the competition and will forward to a better performance in September’s World Cup qualifiers.

Anirban Das
Anirban Das's journey to Delhi via Kolkata involves football, music, curiosity (which one day can kill the cat) and food. Following global football opens up an infinite space within him in both the conscious and subconscious self, away from the din and bustle of the madding crowd. Supports Manchester United & Barcelona

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