Perhaps the most shocking match of the Copa America Centenario saw Chile obliterate Mexico to the tune of a 7-0 win. Edu Vargas scored four goals and Alexis Sánchez ran rampant as the defending Copa champions pulled the best team in CONCACAF to pieces from first whistle to last, and the final score can only be described as stunning.
The match started off fast-paced, and Chile quickly started to mount a fierce challenge on Mexico's defense. It became quickly clear that Mexico were struggling to find answers for Alexis Sánchez, with the Chilean attacker wreaking havoc in the final third for his team. Mexico were taking a battering, and fans of El Tri could only hope that they could weather the early storm.
They did not.
It was, of course, Sánchez who helped create the goal, with a tricky run into the final third that wreaked havoc with Mexico's defense, ultimately helping set up a long shot that was pushed away. The ball then fell to the unlikeliest of goalscorers in Edson Puch. Puch hadn't played a minute in the Copa America so far and was something of a surprising entrant for their squad before the tournament even began -- but he made no mistakes in putting the rebounded save away to give his team an early lead.
Mexico would work to get back into the game, but some clever defending from Chile kept them at bay, especially once Gonzalo Jara started keeping Chicharito out of the game. Without their totemic goalscorer, Mexico struggled to be effective in the final third, and Chile were patiently working for another great scoring chance of their own.
They had the ball in the back of the net via Eduardo Vargas in the 38th minute, but it was waved off for Vargas being just offside when the ball was played in. Six minutes later, though, he made no mistake, taking a sublime pass from Sánchez and putting it into the back of the net to give Chile a 2-0 lead just before halftime.
That goal silenced a previously-rowdy Mexico crowd, and they hadn't really found their voice by the time the second half started -- and even if they had they would have been quickly silenced by a wonderful goal from Alexis that put Chile up 3-0 just a few short minutes into the half. Only a few minutes after Alexis' goal, Chile's relentless ball pressure came good, forcing a turnover that ended with Sánchez putting through Vargas for his second goal of the match -- and a counter attack just a few minutes after that saw Vargas get his hat trick.
It was an utter rout, leaving Mexico looking listless and lost on the pitch, absolutely helpless to stop the relentless wave of Chile's approach to the game. The crowd was silent, the players looked broken, and Mexico manager Juan Carlos Osorio had a thousand yard stare on the touchline. It was stunning to see -- everyone knew that Mexico would have to up their game to beat the defending Copa America Champions, but this? Seeing Chile dismantle and humiliate Mexico so thoroughly was not something you could have predicted before the match.
Chile weren't even done, with Vargas adding a fourth goal and Puch poetically finishing the scoring by adding his second before the match ended. Mexico couldn't even manage a consolation goal before the final whistle blew, and Chile are set for a semifinal match against Colombia, while another one of the pre-tournament favorites in Mexico are heading home early.
Mexico: Guillermo Ochoa; Pauil Aguillar, Nestor Araújo, Hector Moreno, Miguel Layún; Jesus Dueñas (Carlos Peña 46'), Andres Guardado; Hector Lozano (Raul Jimenez 46'), Miguel Herrera, Jesús Corona (Diego Reyes 61'); Javier Hernández
Chile: Claudio Bravo; Jose Fuenzalida, Gary Medel (Enzo Roco 60'), Gonzalo Jara, Jean Beausejour (Mark González 73'); Charles Aránguiz, Marcelo Díaz (Francisco Silva 57'), Arturo Vidal; Edson Puch, Eduardo Vargas, Alexis Sánchez
Goals: Puch (16', 87'), Vargas (44', 52', 57', 74'), Sánchez (49')
Three things we learned
Chile played so much faster than Mexico
A big factor of the ease in which Chile broke Mexico down in the first half was the pure speed with which they kept moving the ball through Mexico's lines. That's maybe an odd thing to think of, since in terms of pure running pace Mexico have Chile beat easily, but Chile moved the ball so fast between the lines that Mexico just couldn't keep up with them. They didn't dawdle on the ball, they didn't spend a ton of time passing back and forth -- when Chile saw their openings, they fired straight up and through them every time, and Mexico never had an answer for it.
Arturo Vidal is back -- and Chile will miss him against Colombia
Chile looked fairly mediocre early in the tournament thanks in large part to Arturo Vidal not really being, well, Arturo Vidal. He wasn't the hard-charging, free-flowing midfielder who made his name at Juventus -- he was the slow-footed, tentative midfielder who had such a bizarre season at Bayern Munich last season. Against Panama, though, we started to see signs that the real Vidal was coming back, and we definitely saw him back against Mexico. He absolutely dominated, flying up to disrupt Andres Guardado and crash the box, and then he'd fly back to keep Hector Herrera in his pocket with contemptuous ease.
Unfortunately, he picked up a yellow card for a late challenge in the first half, which will leave Vidal suspended against Colombia for accumulation. That means that Chile will be without one of their most important and influential players just as he's getting back into form, and that has to be a concern for Chile fans heading into a match against a very good Colombia team.
Juan Carlos Osorio got out-coached and El Tri couldn't cover for him this time
We've talked about it before in this tournament, but Mexico's manager hasn't been doing a terribly good job despite their results. Mexico's incredible talent has been able to cover for Osorio's tactical miscues so far, but against Chile that wasn't enough. This time, their opponents picked out their flaws and ruthlessly exploited them over and over again, and Mexico got utterly annihilated because of it. Osorio probably won't survive this loss with his job intact, and it's really, really hard to argue with that decision if it is indeed made -- especially after it looked like a number of Mexico's players pretty much quit on him in the second half.