Charles Aranguiz helps Chile secure top spot

Santiago: Charles Aranguiz scored twice as Chile secured top spot in Group A with a 5-0 demolition of Bolivia in their Copa America clash on Friday. The International midfielder netted either side of halftime while Alexis Sanchez and Gary Medel were also on target for the hosts, reported Xinhua news agency. Bolivia’s forgettable night was capped off by a Ronald Raldes own goal four minutes from time. The result left Chile at the head of Group A, three points above second-placed Bolivia, who are also guaranteed of progressing to the knockout phase.

Earlier in the night Ecuador kept alive their slim hopes of advancing to the next round by defeating Mexico 2-1. Gustavo Quinteros’ team, who finished the group stage with three points, need other results to go their way to continue in the tournament. Mexico have been eliminated with just two points from their three matches. It took just three minutes for Aranguiz to give Chile the lead at the Estadio Nacional.

Jorge Valdivia floated a 35-yard pass from behind the halfway line that Eduardo Vargas dragged back into the path of Aranguiz, who hammered a first-time shot into the bottom corner. Jorge Sampaoli’s team continued to apply the pressure with Sanchez in particular creating problems for Bolivia’s defence. The Arsenal man had three clear chances in the space of 10 minutes, including a free-kick that cannoned off the post.

Bolivia’s best chance of the first half came when Marcelo Moreno Martins sliced a shot wide from 12 yards after being set up by Pablo Escobar. Chile then doubled their lead with one of the goals of the tournament in the 37th minute. Sanchez carried the ball to the edge of the box before picking out Valdivia, who chipped a low return pass that reached the former Barcelona forward at an awkward height. The 26-year-old instinctively launched himself headlong, somehow firing an angled header between two defenders into the far corner.

Aranguiz made it 3-0 just beyond the hour when he bundled in Angelo Henriquez’s cross after a precise Matias Fernandez through ball. Vargas had a powerful shot saved by Romel Quinonez and was then closed down by the Bolivia keeper as he procrastinated on the counterattack. Gary Medel scored Chile’s fourth goal by initiating a swift exchange of passes that also involved David Pizarro and Valdivia. The latter’s delicate lob into the box was controlled by Medel with his chest before the Inter Milan midfielder deftly lifted the ball over Quinonez.

Bolivia’s nightmare continued when Ronald Raldes deflected an Henriquez cross from the right into his own net. Earlier, Miller Bolanos and Enner Valencia scored either side of halftime as Ecuador defeated Mexico 2-1 in Rancagua. Bolanos opened the scoring by tapping in at the far post after a slick one-two with Valencia.

The West Ham United striker made it 2-0 when he again combined with Bolanos to fire in from close range after Juan Medina gave the ball away in midfield. Hugo Ayala was then brought down by Gabriel Achilier and Raul Jimenez converted from the penalty spot to pull a goal back for Ecuador.

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