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Late Vidal penalty puts Chile past Bolivia

Photo by Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports
Photo by Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports

The defending Copa America champions needed a controversial late penalty call to beat Bolivia Friday night and pick up their first three points of the Copa America Centenario. Two goals by Arturo Vidal at either end of the second half gave Chile a 2-1 win over Bolivia, keeping Chile’s hopes alive in Group D.

Vidal opened the scoring less than a minute out of halftime. Alexis Sanchez played Mauricio Pinilla into the left side of the 18-yard box and he cut the ball back to the penalty spot for Vidal to run onto and finish.

In the 61st minute, Bolivia equalized in stunning fashion. Jhasmani Campos struck a free kick with his left foot from 20-plus yards out on the right channel and sent the ball whipping into the top corner at the far post.

Tied 1-1 late into stoppage time, the controversy arose.

Sanchez tried to play a ball in from the right and it was blocked by Bolivia’s Luis Gutierrez.

It looked like Gutierrez had his arm tucked behind his back trying to avoid a handball, but the assistant referee on the sideline waved for the call and the center referee took his suggestion, awarding a penalty.

Vidal stepped up and, with the keeper going the wrong direction, easily finished into his right with a well-taken penalty in the 100th minute, just moments before the final whistle.

The win puts Chile on three points after two games, while Bolivia is without a point.


Chile midfielder Arturo Vidal scored twice in the second half to deliver the three points.


In the eighth minute of stoppage time, the referee whistled for a handball in the box. Vidal eventually converted the penalty in the 100th minute.


Bolivia defender Luis Gutierrez seemed hard done by on the call, but his handball ended up costing Bolivia the points.


  1. A penalty kick in the last minute or two should not be given unless the infraction was clear cut. This wasn’t even close. Who gets really screwed is Panama because they could have moved on with a draw against Chile had Bolivia and Chile drawn. Now they have to beat Chile to advance.

  2. Oh, look: more questionable, outcome-changing calls at even the highest levels of competitive soccer, all left to stand with zero use of technology and to be followed by zero intent to improve the system.

  3. Bolivia’s tying goal was one of the best free kicks I have ever seen.
    our MLS ref was put into a terrible position by his AR who called the late PK, which is one of the worst calls I have ever seen.


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