Arsenal forward Alexis Sanchez scored a brace as defending champions Chile won an absolute thriller against Panama to make it through to the quarter-finals of Copa America 2016.
La Roja put in a convincing display in their final match of Group D as they defeated an exuberant Panama side 4-2 to finish second in the group.
Meanwhile, tournament favourites Argentina were in fine form and eased past a poor Bolivia side 3-0. This win takes the Argentinians to the top of Group D on nine points as the group stages of the tournament draw to a close.
Chile 4-2 Panama
This was a virtual knockout game between Chile and Panama, with both teams on three points going into the match. Chile, who had the superior goal difference, needed a draw to go through, while Panama needed to get the three points.
Panama, who are ranked 51 places below Chile in the FIFA rankings, shot into the lead within the first five minutes of the match as Miguel Camargo fired in a long range effort. Barcelona keeper Claudio Bravo did manage to get a hand on the ball, but Camargo’s shot had enough power to carry the ball over the line.
It did not take Chile long to get back into the game however. Just 10 minutes later, Eduardo Vargas slid a loose rebound from an Arturo Vidal shot into the net to level the scores. Despite the fact that they just needed a draw, Chile kept probing the Panama defence and came close to scoring a couple of times, but Vidal headed wide on both the occasions.
However, it was Vargas again who jumped high to nod a Jean Beausejour cross into the goal to put Chile in the lead just before half time. Soon after the restart, Vargas brilliantly set up Alexis Sanchez, with the Arsenal forward blasting his volley into the net to double La Roja’s lead.
With a quarter of an hour to go, Abdiel Arroyo handed Panama a lifeline as he headed a deflected cross towards the Chile goal. Bravo managed to get his hands on the ball again, but like Panama’s first goal, it was too strong for the Barcelona custodian.
However, Sanchez put the result of the match beyond any doubt as he headed in a Jose Fuenzalida cross just one minute before the end of regulation time. This win puts Chile into the quarter-finals, where they will face Mexico.
Argentina 3-0 Bolivia
Argentina had already qualified for the quarter-finals ahead of the game, while Bolivia had no chance of making it through to the knockout stages. Even a Bolivia win would have kept Argentina at the top of Group D.
However, La Albiceleste came out all guns blazing as Erik Lamela fired them into the lead in the 13th minute with a deflected freekick from close range. Tata Martino’s men then doubled their lead just a couple of minutes later, as Ezequiel Lavezzi turned a loose rebound into the goal after Bolivia keeper Carlos Lampe thwarted a Gonzalo Higuain header.
The former Napoli and PSG player was involved in the action yet again for Argentina’s third, as his low cross was turned in by Argentina centre-back Victor Leandro Cuesta.
Argentina maintained their 100% record in the Copa America 2016 with this victory, winning their third consecutive match. La Albiceleste now have to face Venezuela in the quarter-finals of the tournament.