Copa America Centenario: Chile steal late penalty, survive Bolivia

Foxborough, MA- For a matchup that had been so heavily dominated by one side, only the stats proved that to be true at Gillette Stadium. Despite having the majority of possession and a lengthy history of goals against Bolivia, Chile struggled and needed the help of the officials to leave Boston with all three points.


Bolivia entered Friday night's match as a heavy underdog. Despite both sides losing their first match of the competition 2-1, Chile had the present and historical advantage against their South American opponents. Chile had been unbeaten in their last four Copa America clashes against Bolivia, but it was difficult to see the stars shine for La Roja in Foxborough.

Bolivia allowed the Chileans to keep the ball in the first half, as Chile had 74% of the possession in the first frame. Bolivia began with five defenders in the back, but the formation allowed the fullbacks room to get up the field on the counter. 

Despite the large share of possession, Chile failed to manufacture much in the first half. The closest moment to a goal in the first half came from an Arturo Vidal chance in the box, as the Bolivian keeper had been scrambling back to cover his net. Defender Edward Zenteno absorbed Vidal's shot on the goal line, keeping the ball out of the net. 

The first moment of truth for the officiating crew came in the last moments of the first half, when it appeared a Bolivian defender got a hand on Alexis Sanchez's shot in the Bolivian box. The referee ignored the Chilean pleas for a penalty kick, despite the fact that on television it looked as if he got the decision wrong.

Quick Strike

Whatever Chile manage Juan Antonio Pizzi said to his team during halftime clearly had them ready to go, as Arturo Vidal scored in the first minute of the second half to give La Roja the lead. Vidal placed the ball to the right of the keeper from the top of the box, and it appeared from then that Chile might be able to get a grip for the first of the match. 

Bolivian Response

“We know we’re facing a very mature team, very strong players, but I think that tomorrow will be another game, 11 against 11, and we will demonstrate that Bolivia is really motivated to achieve a victory,Juan Carlos Arce, captain of Bolivia, said before the match. It was clear that it wasn't just talk from the captain.

All it took was one moment of brilliance, and holy hell what a moment it was.  Jhasmani Campos, who had just been substituted into the match, struck a incredibly perfect ball past Claudio Bravo on a free kick to tie the match at one in the 61st minute. Campos may have scored the best goal of the tournament so far, and that beauty of a kick gave hope to Bolivia as both sides pushed on to find the deciding goal.

Bolivia fought until the end at Gillette Stadium (Photo: Getty Images)
Bolivia fought until the end at Gillette Stadium (Photo: Getty Images)

Injury and Time

After a nasty bicycle kick to the head of a Bolivian player, that took several minutes off the clock for medical treatment, the fourth official's board read eight minutes of stoppage time in the second half. Chile only needed seven. The referee awarded a penalty to La Roja, when it appeared that a Chilean cross in the box was touched by a Bolivian hand. The replay showed that the hand was purposely placed behind the defender's back to avoid contact with the ball. Never the less, Chile was given the spot kick.

Vidal confirmed his brace from the penalty spot in the 100th minute of regulation, allowing fans of La Roja to once again believe in a possible quarterfinal trip for the defending champions. For Bolivia, it as a despair like no other. The Bolivians were able to play with Chile tit for tat for over 90 minutes, yet they come away with nothing from the match.