Chile hold Peru in Copa America opener

Published June 23, 2024
ARLINGTON: Chile’s Alexis Sanchez (L) vies for the ball with Sergio Pena of Peru during their Copa America match at the AT&T Stadium.—AFP
ARLINGTON: Chile’s Alexis Sanchez (L) vies for the ball with Sergio Pena of Peru during their Copa America match at the AT&T Stadium.—AFP

ARLINGTON (Texas): Chile and Peru missed the chance to take a big step toward Copa America quarter-final qualification on Friday night, playing out a dour 0-0 draw in their Group A opener.

The teams, who have each won two Copa America titles, were striving to join Argentina on three points after the defending champions’ 2-0 victory over Canada, whose qualification hopes have also been boosted by the draw.

The stalemate reflected the struggles of Chile and Peru in the CONMEBOL World Cup Qualifying, where they have jointly managed just four goals across 12 matches.

Alexis Sanchez, one of the heroes of Chile’s back-to-back Copa America victories in 2015 and 2016, squandered the game’s best opportunity in the 16th minute.

The former Inter Milan forward missed a golden opportunity when he received Victor Davila’s low cross in the six-yard box, only to send his effort soaring over the crossbar.

“They started aggressively. I had two chances and this is the Copa America and you have to make them,” Sanchez said. “We were imprecise in our passes, we played only one game before coming here.”

Despite his frustration in front of goal, Sanchez insisted Chile were satisfied with their display.

“The feeling is good. I am happy with the performance. I am excited,” said the former Barcelona and Arsenal forward.

Sanchez’s botched effort ended up being the best chance of the night for Chile, who enjoyed 65% possession yet only managed one shot on target during the game.

A disjointed encounter never really got going, with some 37 fouls breaking up play and contributing to a lacklustre spectacle.

Peru’s best chance came near the hour mark when Gianluca Lapadula volleyed over from close range.

“I think we played a great game and, with that attitude, we can take any game forward,” Lapadula said. “The first half was much more defensive and the second much more offensive. I had two clear chances and we have to keep working like that. I think we played a great game and it will be our start.”

Peru’s Uruguayan coach Jorge Fossati was encouraged by his team’s performance.

“In the first half Chile had more possession of the ball, although they could not do much damage to us,” he said. “I saw a Peru with a very good attitude, but anxious and with little confidence when it came to playing. But we improved substantially in the second. I didn’t see anything in Peru that couldn’t be corrected. I know we’re not a machine, but we are taking steps in the right direction.”

Chile next face group leaders Argentina in New Jersey on Tuesday, while Peru take on Canada in Kansas City.

Published in Dawn, June 23rd, 2024

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