CONTROVERSIAL CONCLUSION Late Vidal penalty gives Chile win over Bolivia
By Frank Dell'Apa Soccer News Net Contributing Editor
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Arturo Vidal converted a controversial penalty kick 10 minutes into second half stoppage time as defending champion Chile took a 2-1 win over Bolivia in a Copa America Centenario Group B match before a 19,392 crowd at Gillette Stadium Friday night.
Chile (1-1-0, 3 points) set the tone for most of the match but struggled to break through a staunch Bolivia (0-2-0) defense. The Chileans, who conclude group play against Panama in Philadelphia Tuesday, took the lead on Vidal’s goal in the opening seconds of the second half, then surrendered a spectacular free kick to Jhasmani Campos before rallying late.
Chile dominated the early-going, Jean Beausejour and Alexis Sanchez threating on the left. Bolivia central defender Ronald Eguino was cautioned by U.S. referee Jair Marrufo in the fourth minute after taking down Sanchez. Mauricio Pinilla headed high off a free kick after Beausejour drew a foul in the seventh minute. Vidal struggled in the first half, once popping an unmarked attempted cross over the signboards behind the goal. Bolivia recovered, Martin Smedberg firing wide (18th minute), New York Cosmos forward Yasmani Duk driving through the penalty area and fouling Gary Medel(22nd), a Juan Carlos Arce cross knocked out for a corner (27th).
But Chile dictated the tempo, goalkeeper Claudio Bravo spending much of the first half standing well outside the penalty area, often advancing near the center circle while his teammates controlled possession. A close-range Sanchez shot was blocked by Eguino (23rd), Pinilla’s left-footer when wide (32nd), Pedro Pablo Hernandez shot wide off a clearance (37th) and had a shot from the penalty arc blocked (45th).
Sanchez’ drive from 10 yards was cleared off the line by Edward Zenteno in the 40th minute. The sequence was set up as Carlos Lampe failed to punch out a Mauricio Isla cross, Sanchez firing past Lampe, the shot hitting Zenteno, who remained down and received medical attention. Lampe then was injured after being fouled by Pinilla, Bolivian trainers coming out. After Lampe recovered, he set up to take a free kick but instead picked the ball up and punted it, just before Marrufo whistled the end of the half, Chilean players then protesting the non-call.
Bolivia took the second half kickoff, but sent it directly to Bravo, who played the ball long. Vidal stripped Juan Carlos Arce from behind, finding Pinilla running into the left side of the penalty area. Pinilla sent a square ball for Vidal, who one-timed a shot past Lampe 14 seconds into the half.
Campos entered as a 58th-minute substitute and, three minutes later, slammed a left-foot free kick into the upper left corner of the net to tie.
Sanchez earned a free kick, his attempted knocked down by Lampe, substitute Edson Puch just missing the rebound in the 72nd minute. Two minutes later, Lampe sprawled to tip out a shot by Vidal, who one-timed an attempt from the penalty spot after being knocked down.
In the 87th minute, substitute Eduardo Vargas shot from the edge of the goal area was blocked by Lampe, the rebound cleared off the line. Vargas had a bicycle kick blocked by Eguino, who was taken off by stretcher in the 88th minute, Marrufo then adding eight minutes of injury time.
In the seventh minute of added time, Marrufo whistled a penalty as Sanchez’ attempted cross appeared to hit Luis Gutierrez on the arm. Bolivia had a final chance, substitute Rodrigo Ramallo missing inches right from 15 yards just after the kickoff, Marrufo whistling the end of the game after a 56 minute, 44 second second half.