Chile thumped Panama, 4-2, on Tuesday night to secure their place in the knockout rounds of Copa América Centenario. Eduardo Vargas and Alexis Sanchez notched braces for La Roja, while Miguel Camargo and Abdiel Arroyo scored for Panama.
Coming into the match, the sides were even on points, but goal difference put Chile ahead of Panama. Keep in mind that a Chile only needed a draw to go through to the next round, while Panama required an improbable win to advance.
Panamanian midfielder Miguel Camargo got things off to a hot start, scoring from range in just the fifth minute. The shot itself wasn't particularly memorable, but Chile 'keeper Claudio Bravo's attempted save will make the rounds for all the wrong reasons. The Barcelona man was seemingly thrown off by the bounce the ball took a few yards in front of him, as he was only able to get a light touch on the ball before it crossed the goal line.
Though they had plenty of time to clap back, Chile opted to search out the equalizer immediately. The home side--both in effect and on paper--threw numbers into the box, as five or even six players awaited crosses from overlapping full backs. Eduardo Vargas, the top scorer from last year's Copa América, got Chile on the board just ten minutes after Panama's opener. Goalkeeper Jaime Penedo had parried an Alexis Sanchez shot directly into the path of Vargas, who calmly slotted it home.
But Chile didn't stop pushing there. The South American side continued to bum-rush Panama's defense as if they needed a half-dozen goals. After a number of close calls, Panama's back line finally folded again in the 43rd minute, when Vargas scored his second. The forward rose to connect with a perfect cross from Jean Beausejour before snapping the ball to the far post. Penedo raised his arms in frustration as Chile ran to the corner to celebrate; Panama simply weren't on the same level as their opponent.
The losing side did come out with a bit more energy in the second half, opting to press Chile as opposed to doing whatever the hell it is that they were doing in the first half. They even got a few sniffs at goal, but they quickly conceded yet again. Chile took a two-goal lead in the 50th minute when Alexis Sanchez volleyed the pants off the ball and sent Lincoln Financial Field into frenzied celebration. It was an absolutely beautiful goal, from the dinked pass from Vargas to the full-volley that nearly decapitated Penedo.
You can't hit a volley any better than @Alexis_Sanchez just did. #CHIvPAN #MyCopaColors https://t.co/x8zOqJAYGN— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) June 15, 2016
Unsurprisingly--at least at that point--Chile kept pushing for more goals, but Panama would be the side to score next. RNK Split forward Abdiel Arroyo scored on a header from the near post after a Chilean defender had flicked the ball into his path. Claudio Bravo was largely at fault once again, as the goalkeeper should have been in a position to deny a shot from such a tight angle.
Claudio Bravo is not having himself a good night... #CHIvPAN #MyCopaColors https://t.co/35vFvd4Eag— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) June 15, 2016
Alexis Sanchez scored his second goal of the night in the 89th minute, heading a ball in the opposite direction of his body's momentum and fooling Penedo in the process.
Chile's multi-goal lead remained at the final whistle, and they were totally deserving of it. La Roja put on a show for the gathered fans at the Linc as they passed Panama off the field and pressed them back into the locker room. They will almost certainly take on Mexico in the quarterfinals.
Tonight's game was the third and final Copa América Centenario match held in Philadelphia. It's hard to say that any of the games disappointed, as fans at Lincoln Financial Field were treated to three great games. Attendance figures were almost as impressive. 27,260 showed up to watch Chile dismantle Panama, and the vast majority of them were there to cheer on the winning side. By comparison, 23,002 came to the Linc to see Venezuela beat Uruguay, and 51,041 looked on as the United States defeated Paraguay. The total attendance amounts to 101,303, and the average figure shakes out to about 33,768.