Vargas scores 4 goals as Chile routs Mexico 7-0 to reach Copa America semis

  • AP, Santa Clara, California
  • Updated: Jun 19, 2016 12:06 IST
Chile’s Eduardo Vargas celebrates after scoring against Mexico during a Copa America Centenario. (AP Photo)

Eduardo Vargas scored four goals, Edson Puch added two, and defending champion Chile thoroughly dismantled Mexico from every angle in a 7-0 Copa America quarterfinal trouncing on Sunday.

The loss was Mexico’s worst ever in an official match and ended its team-record unbeaten streak in embarrassing fashion at 22 matches, one day shy of a year since El Tri’s last loss, to Ecuador in the Copa group stage.

Mexico’s fans still regularly used their traditional homophobic chant even after being urged to stop by tournament organizers, national sport officials and even the players, especially in the wake of the recent Orlando shooting.

After Vargas found the net for the final time on this extraordinary display of shot-making, the star forward jumped in the air and pumped his right fist as his shaggy hair swayed in the Bay Area breeze. And a sold-out stadium of 70,547 that began the night like a Mexico home game quickly emptied of El Tri fanaticos as the clock wound down.

Alexis Sanchez had a goal and two assists, and Puch scored the bookends for Chile — starting things off in the 16th minute and punctuating this dominant night with an 88th-minute score.

Chile forward Eduardo Vargas (11) celebrates scoring against Mexico in the first half during quarterfinal play in the 2016 Copa America Centenario soccer tournament. (USA Today Sports)

Vargas scored the first goal of this career performance in the 44th minute, five minutes after an offside call cost him another score, then added goals in the 52nd, 57th and 74th minutes as Chile kept adding on to demoralize Mexico in one of El Tri’s worst defeats ever in a competitive match — right up there with a 6-0 loss to Germany in the group stage of the 1978 World Cup in Argentina. Mexico suffered an 8-0 loss to England in a 1961 friendly.

Fifth-ranked Chile, the runner-up in Group D to top-ranked Argentina, matched its scoring total from the entire three-game group stage. La Roja advances to take on Colombia on Wednesday night in Chicago.

Chile’s only other win against Mexico in the Copa America came 2-1 in 2011.

Chile surely will be playing with some serious momentum after this one. What a statement of Chile’s determination to follow up on last year’s Copa win with another strong run in the special 100th-year edition of the tournament.

Sanchez found Vargas in the 44th minute to send Chile into halftime with a nice cushion, then Sanchez scored in the 49th minute off a pass from Arturo Vidal.

Puch got things going in the 16th minute for Chile after capitalizing on a deflected shot by Marcelo Diaz off Mexico goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa. After Puch controled the rebound on Diaz’s shot from 20 yards out, he had an open net with Ochoa still out of position and beat the goalie at the near post.

Sanchez’s 34th goal for Chile tied him with Ivan Zamorano for second on the team’s career scoring list behind Marcelo Salas with 37.

It was the largest soccer crowd and scoring total for soccer at 2-year-old, $1.3 billion Levi’s Stadium.

In what began as a fiesta of Mexican fans outside, with makeshift concerts and countless cheers, turned into a forgettable night in a hurry with this result.

Group C winner Mexico is ranked 16th in the world and had topped an unbeaten stretch of 21 matches by the 2004-05 team coached by Argentinian Ricardo La Volpe.

La Roja already played once in Santa Clara, losing to top-ranked Argentina 2-1 on June 6 in a rematch of last year’s Copa final played in Chile.

El Tri dropped to 3-3-1 against Chile in the tournament and had beaten Chile 1-0 in an exhibition matchup June 1 in San Diego, getting a goal in the 86th minute from Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez but not playing its top soccer.

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