Seattle - Argentina maintained their 100 percent start to
the Copa America Centenario with an easy win over Bolivia, as holders Chile
booked their place in the quarter-finals on Tuesday.
The tournament favorites, already assured of a quarter-final
berth after wins over Chile and Panama, wrapped up their Group D campaign with
one-sided win at Seattle's CenturyLink Field.
The victory sees Argentina reach the last eight as group
winners, handing them what in theory should be a straightforward assignment
against Venezuela in Foxborough on Saturday.
The two-time world champions are determined to end a 23-year
wait for a major title after suffering agonizing defeats in the finals of the
2014 World Cup and last year's Copa America.
Argentina coach Gerardo Martino elected to rest captain
Lionel Messi after his devastating hat-trick performance against Panama.
But the Argentines were still far too strong for a feeble
Bolivian team who were overwhelmed in a devastating opening period.
The match was effectively settled within the first quarter
of an hour, with Tottenham Hotspur winger Erik Lamela opening the scoring with
a deflected free-kick in the 13th minute.
Two minutes later China-based forward Ezequiel Lavezzi
marked his comeback from injury with a goal, volleying home from close range
after Gonzalo Higuain's downward header.
Also read: Tearful Di Maria inspires Argentina at Copa
Central defender Victor Cuesta made it 3-0 just after the
half-hour, diverting home Lavezzi's low cross in the 32nd minute.
With Messi coming on as a substitute at half-time, the game
became a question of when or if the Barcelona superstar could grab a 54th
international goal to equal Gabriel Batistuta's longstanding scoring record.
However despite Argentina's dominance of possession -- which
reached 87 percent at one point -- Messi was unable to add to his tally.
- Sanchez at the double -
In Tuesday's other game, Alexis Sanchez and Eduardo Vargas
both scored twice as Chile advanced with a 4-2 victory over Panama.
Chile recovered from the shock of falling behind to a Miguel
Camargo goal after only five minutes, with Vargas scoring twice before
Arsenal's Sanchez grabbed a third in the Group D game.
Sanchez added his second in the 89th minute to complete the
Chile will now face Mexico in the pick of the quarter-finals
However they will be keen to iron out kinks in their
defensive display which saw them concede two cheap goals.
The Chileans were given a scare early on when Camargo gave
the Panamanians an early lead. Chile defender Gonzalo Jara was the culprit,
giving away possession with a lazy pass out of defense that allowed Panama to
The ball arrived at Camargo's feet and the midfielder let
fly with a venomous low shot which Barcelona goalkeeper Claudio Bravo failed to
grasp to leave Panama 1-0 up.
Chile hit back quickly however, leveling through Vargas, who
tapped in from close range after Panama goalkeeper Jaime Penedo could only half
block a Sanchez shot.
Two minutes before the break, Chile took the lead, Vargas
heading in a cross from the left for 2-1.
Five minutes into the second half, it was 3-1. Vargas picked
out Sanchez with a lofted pass from one side of the penalty area to the other
and the Arsenal star showed great technique to lash a volley into the roof of
Chile were jolted by a second Panama goal on 75 minutes,
when Abdiel Arroyo headed in a free-kick from Ricardo Buitrago to make it 3-2
but finished on top to seal the win when Sanchez added his second.For
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