Controversial Penalty saves Chile’s Copa America

Chila Copa America Centenario

by Christian Araos

Foxborough, Mass – Chile saved their Copa America with two goals from Arturo Vidal including a controversial 101st minute penalty in a 2–1 win over Bolivia Friday night at Gillette Stadium.

Chile had 75 percent of the possession and 10 shots on goal but needed a debated penalty shout from referee Jair Marrufo to find the winner. Halfway through eight minutes of stoppage time, Marrufo ruled Luis Gutiérrez handled Alexis Sanchez‘s cross inside the area. Replays show the ball striking Gutiérrez’s elbow while it was away from his body but Gutiérrez not attempting to reach for the ball.

Bolivian FA president Rolando López openly criticized Marrufo’s decision and cited his removal from the 2010 World Cup referee list as proof of his track record. Vidal said Marrufo missed two earlier penalty decisions.

Vidal gave Chile the lead :30 seconds into the second half. He met Mauricio Pinilla‘s layoff and finished into the bottom corner. Though Chile’s lead was deserved from the balance of play, they struggled for ideas in the attacking third. Their best chance in the first half came when Vidal took advantage of Carlos Lampe‘s mistake to create a shot for Alexis Sanchez but Edward Zenteno blocked it on the goal line.

Bolivia equalized on the hour mark with arguably the best goal of the tournament. Jhasmani Campos used his left foot to bend a free kick into the far corner. Chile goalkeeper Claudio Bravo could only deflect the shot off the underside of the crossbar.

It was Bolivia’s only shot on target.

With the win, Chile draw level with Panama for second in the group on three points. If Panama lose by one goal, the two teams meet Tuesday in Philadelphia level on goal difference. Chile currently lead Panama on goals scored. That means Chile can advance to the quarterfinals with a win or draw.

Bolivia are eliminated with tonight’s loss. They conclude their tournament Tuesday in Seattle against Argentina.