Many people complained about the first round of group stage matches in this Copa America being boring. Between Bolivia's epic win over Ecuador and this match, those people no longer have any room for complaints, after Chile and Mexico battled hard from the first whistle in a back-and-forth match that featured some divine goals before ending in a 3-3 draw.
The first half was absolutely thrilling, with both teams racing up and down the pitch trying to find any opening they could to snag a goal. The play was fast and the defending wasn't perfect at either end of the pitch, but for the first 20 minutes of the match both defenses did just enough to keep both Chile and Mexico off the board.
It was Mexico that found the first breakthrough, with Vicente Vuoso sneaking in a shock opener for El Tri that caught Chile completely off guard. It was just the fifth international goal for the 33-year-old, and his first since scoring a brace against Bolivia way back in 2009. It was also something of a sigh of relief for Mexico -- after being held to a scoreless draw against Bolivia in their Copa America opener, many felt this Mexico side was doomed to failure.
Mexico didn't get to celebrate their lead for long, with a strike from Arturo Vidal bringing Chile level just a minute later. That kicked an already-energetic match into a whole new gear, turning downright frenetic before Raul Jiménez looped in a note-perfect header in the 29th minute to put Mexico back in the lead.
Chile obviously weren't too happy about going down again, and slowly worked more and more control of the match, putting Mexico's goal under siege. Mexico's defense bent and bent and bent some more, then finally broke just before the half. With Vidal surging in to the box on the ball, most of Mexico's defense got sucked in to supporting runs from Alexis Sanchez and Mauricio Isla -- but they failed to notice Edu Vargas, who found a huge bubble in Mexico's bad line where he got to stand and wait for a cross from Vidal to head home.
The second half was all Chile for its opening spell, with the South Americans running all over their CONCACAF opponents. Mexico did a better job of organizing their defense, though, and Chile's attack appeared somewhat disjointed as well, leading to Chile wasting a number of chances. That is, until Vidal drove into the box and was taken down by another fit of awful defending by Mexico; Vidal drilled his shot from the penalty spot with ease to put Chile ahead for the first time.
It looked for a moment that Chile had extended their lead in the 65th minute when Jorge Valdivia snapped the back of the net with a gorgeous long-range strike, but the goal was waved off because Sanchez was offside in the buildup. That moment of frustration gave Mexico the opening they needed to strike, and it was Vuoso again taking advantage of chaos in Chile's defense to bring Mexico level at 3-3.
Chile pushed hard for a winner, but poor finishing and more disjointed play in their buildup cost them time and again. They finally found the back of the net in the 80th minute with a sweet strike from Sanchez, but he was again adjudged to be offside -- though this call was far more controversial than the first was, as it looked like Sanchez was at the most level with Mexico's defenders when the through ball was struck.
The closing minutes were a wild, end-to-end affair with chances at both sides of the pitch, but neither team could find a fourth goal to claim all three points. The result leaves the Group A standings in an interesting place -- Chile are even with surprising Bolivia on top of the group with four points, but Mexico is lurking close behind on two points. As things stand, it's not at all unlikely that all three teams make the Copa America quarterfinals, but who finishes where in the group standings is still completely up in the air.
Chile: Claudio Bravo; Mauricio Isla, Gary Medel, Gonzalo Jara, Miiko Albornoz (Jean Beausejour 87'); Marcelo Diaz (Eugenio Mena 71'), Charles Aranguiz, Arturo Vidal; Jorge Valdivia; Edu Vargas (Mauricio Pinilla 85'), Alexis Sanchez
Goals: Vidal (22', pen. 55'), Vargas (42')
Mexico: Jose de Jesús Corona; Juan Valenzuela, Hugo Ayala, Julio Dominguez; Gerardo Flores, Juan Medina (Javier Aquino 64'), Javier Güemez, Jesús Corona (Mario Osuna 77'), Adrian Aldrete (Carlos Salcedo 71'); Vicente Vuoso, Raul Jiménez
Goals: Vuoso (21', 66'), Jiménez (29')
1. Arturo Vidal is scoring goals, but he hasn't been great otherwise
Vidal has scored in both of Chile's matches, which is certainly a good and valuable thing. But beyond that, the midfielder's performance has been more than a little concerning. He's been rash and wild in his challenges, incredibly inconsistent in possession, and struggling to find space to work with off the ball. If Chile are going to push for a place in the final like they're hoping for, they really need their best player to get his head screwed back on straight and start dominating the game like he's capable of. Vidal has had good moments, sure, like his assist for Vargas' goal today and the runs that earned penalties in each of the first two Chile matches, but he needs to have more than just moments in order to carry Chile to glory.
2. Mexico were better, but their B team still aren't that good
Mexico were downright dire against Bolivia, looking slow and unorganized and at times uninterested against a team they should have throttled, even without the nation's biggest stars in the squad. Against Chile, they were much quicker and more lethal in attack, but they were a hot mess through midfield and defense when Chile had the ball. Against a team like Chile that showed their own issues in those same areas, that works, but against better composed teams, that just won't fly.
3. Chile need to execute better or they're not winning anything
All match long, the song was the same for Chile: close, but no cigar. Shots buzzing wide of the post. Through balls going to the wrong side of a player. Pullbacks getting pulled too far back. Players offside at crucial moments. Defenders tracking the wrong runs. Chile are a massively talented side, but they're playing like a bunch of individuals trying to win on their own, not as a group working together. Until that changes, this side doesn't stand a chance at winning the Copa America.