SANTA CLARA, Ca. – A red-hot Chile fired its way past Mexico at Levi's Stadium Saturday night, advancing to a semifinal date with Colombia. The champions of last year's tournament dominated Mexico and Eduardo Vargas poured in four goals to make it a resounding and overwhelming 7-0 victory.
The Mexicans looked defeated right after Alexis Sanchez made it 3-0 in the 49th but Chile never gave up and poured extra salt in the wound as the final result ended up being a wild six-goal shutout. La Roja kept its foot on the gas and its players' work rates were unfathomable as the team breezed by its favored opposition, which had not lost over a 22-match streak.
Chile's full team was playing with incredible work rates right from the start and it paid off in the 16th minute. The ball was played around to Marcelo Diaz, who whipped in a shot from the top-right of the box. While it was saved by Mexican keeper Guillermo Ochoa, Edson Puch was right there to punch in the rebound to make it 1-0 in his sixth-ever cap for the defending champions.
It was nearly 2-0 in the 37th minute when a ball came from Jean Beausejour across the box to Eduardo Vargas on the right, who slotted home an easy finish. However, he was offside on the play and it was called back. Two minutes later, disaster struck for Chile, but not in the form of a goal. Arturo Vidal picked up a yellow card with a dangerous late tackle, his second since the start of Copa America Centenario, meaning he will miss the semifinal matchup in Chicago on Wednesday.
La Roja was able to double their lead, just seven minutes after the false alarm in the 37th. Vargas got on the board for real this time, receiving a ball in from Alexis Sanchez and taking one touch before pounding the ball into the right netting with his weak foot to make it 2-0.
Mexico was truly outworked and outplayed in the first 45 and the scoreboard showed just that. The Chileans were able to finish their chances and while Claudio Bravo still looked spotty, his defense prevented any chances from coming on target in the half.
The onslaught continued shortly after the start of the second half. Mexico tried turning up the pressure but Chile struck again in the 49th minute on a counterattack. Alexis Sanchez trailed a great passing clinic and finished past Ochoa and the Mexican defense to make it 3-0.
Chile poured it on and Eduardo Vargas claimed a double on the day just three minutes later. Sanchez slid a ball through for the striker and Vargas won the footrace, sliding a shot past Ochoa with his left foot to make it 4-0 in the 52nd minute. The heavily pro-Mexican crowd was silenced, to say the least.
And then it was five. A rebound bounced up to Vargas' feet amid the commotion of the penalty area and the striker blasted it home to give himself a hat-trick and further embarrass Mexico. Chile kept getting the chances as Mexico couldn't overcome the shock.
Vargas scored his fourth goal in the 74th minute as El Tri was playing defeated soccer. A right-post rebound from Edson Puch was deflected a few feet out along the end-line and Vargas fired in a laser from the narrowest of angles to make it six for Chile.
Edson Puch scored Chile's seventh after 87 minutes. A transition sequence brought up by Alexis was worked around to Puch. The Necaxa man chipped it over a pouncing Ochoa to score, and that was all. The Chileans fell a goal short of handing Mexico a loss tied with its worst ever in history - England beat El Tri in an 8-0 slaughterfest in 1961.
With Mexico's streak snapped, it looks like coach Juan Carlos Osorio will be under fire, despite this being his first loss with the team. On the other side, the Chilean federation and press must be pretty happy with Juan Antonio Pizzi and his squad.