In an electrifying match, Chile beat Bolivia 3-2 this Tuesday as a visitor in La Paz and climbed to fifth place on the penultimate date of the World Cup in Qatar-2022.
The Chilean Alexis Sánchez was the star of the game with two goals: he opened the scoring in the 14th minute and scored his brace in the 85th minute. The other goal came from Marcelo Núñez, in the 77th minute.
Bolivia scored by Marc Enoumba at 37 minutes and its captain, Marcelo Martins Moreno, very close to the end, at 88.
Although all the other matches of Date 16 remain to be played, La Roja climbed to fifth place, in the playoffs, with 19 points like Uruguay, but better goal difference.
Bolivia, eighth with 15 points, is forced to win the two remaining games and needs adverse results from four other teams, so its chances of reaching the World Cup are almost nil.
It was pouring rain in La Paz and the playing field at the Hernando Siles Stadium was flooded. Scheduled for 4:00 p.m. local time (8:00 p.m. GMT), the meeting had to be postponed for half an hour to drain the flooded field.
The game started evenly, with a string of fouls by both teams and few arrivals. But on the Chilean side, striker Sánchez was gaining prominence.
And he scored the first goal. With a precision that left both fans speechless, the Inter Milan player executed a direct free kick on Carlos Lampe’s goal that entered the left corner and broke the myth that the ball does not bend at the altitude of La Paz (3,600 masl).
The Red, as much in need of winning as the Green, immediately withdrew to take care of the favorable result. Even so, the Chileans made more shots on goal in the following minutes than those directed by the Venezuelan César Farías.
Bolivia only revived after 37 minutes: Marc Enoumba, a Cameroonian nationalized Bolivian and a local Always Ready player, tied the game with a header from the center of the area, next to the left post, after a corner kick.
With less water on the pitch and two teams experiencing the match like a final, the second half was much more dynamic than the start.
La Verde failed to take advantage of the momentum after the restart and, when least expected, Chile converted again – a shot by Sánchez from inside the area – and left Bolivia at a disadvantage for the rest of the game.
The Altiplano team tried to turn the score around until the end and came close, with a goal from Martins two minutes into regulation time.
The referee, the Venezuelan Alexis Herrera, gave six minutes of additional time, but the result was already sealed.
Brazil and Argentina, with 36 and 32 points, are already qualified for Qatar-2022. Ecuador is in a comfortable third place, with 24 units, and Peru in fourth, with 20. Whether Chile maintains its fifth place will depend on the rest of the matches on the date, which will also be played this Tuesday.