x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Chile finally brings the Copa America to life in Mexico win

After drab draws from Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay — Chile come back from behind to beat Mexico 2-1 in their Group C opener.

Alexis Sanchez weaves through the Mexican defence during Chile's 2-1 Copa America Group C win.
Alexis Sanchez weaves through the Mexican defence during Chile's 2-1 Copa America Group C win.

SAN JUAN, ARGENTINA // Esteban Paredes and Arturo Vidal scored second-half goals as Chile rallied to beat Mexico 2-1 in their opening Group C match in the Copa America.

Paredes, who came on as a substitute, chipped in from a corner in the 67th, and Vidal soared high and angled in a header in the 73rd — again from a corner.

Fielding a youth team, Mexico took an unlikely lead in the 41st via Nestor Araujo's header after Chile had dominated possession.

Chile were just as dominant in the second half — producing the best football so far in the tournament — but could not converted throguh their key forwards Humbeto Suazo and Alexis Sanchez.

Suazo also had a chance early in the half before Chile finally broke through, when he hit Luis Ernesto Michel in the face with a close-range shot which the Mexico keeper somehow smothered safely in the 53rd minute.

Despite Chile's dominance, Mexico had two chances to equalise in the final minutes with the Chile keeper Claudio Bravo producing a key save on Edgar Pacheco.

It was an important victory for the new Chile coach Claudio Borghi, who took over when Marcelo Bielsa resigned after leading Chile to their best World Cup performance since they hosted the tournament in 1962.

Because they play in the Concacaf federation, Mexico are playing in the South America championship as guests and with a young team. Star players like Javier Hernandez, who led Mexico to the Gold Cup title last month against the United States, were not selected.

Mexico was further weakened when eight players were kicked off the team for violating training rules after a friendly match in Ecuador.

Chile, who reached the last-16 in last year's World Cup, faces World cup semi-finalists Uruguay on Friday, and Mexico plays Peru.