Arturo Vidal set the wheels in motion for Chile’s 2-0 Copa America Group A success over Ecuador at the Estadio Nacional on Thursday night by scoring from the penalty spot.
After the Amarillos had held their own for the first 67 minutes, the Bianconeri midfielder, who was tripped by Miller Bolanos in the area, dusted himself down before firing past Alexander Dominguez from 12 yards to give the tournament hosts the lead.
For all their possession football, however, hearts were soon in mouths for La Roja when Ecuador almost equalised soon after, Enner Valencia’s close-range header rattling the crossbar following a half-cleared free-kick.
But the points were then made safe on 84 minutes after Alexis Sanchez slipped Eduardo Vargas in on goal, with the former QPR frontman calmly slotting into the bottom corner.
Despite only entering the field of play midway through the second half, Fiorentina’s Mati Fernandez was sent off for two bookable offences in stoppage time as Chile, who are looking to win their first ever Copa America in the competition’s 99-year history, finished the game with ten men.
La Roja currently top Group A following their opening day victory, and are next in action against Mexico on Tuesday 16 June at 01.30 CEST.
Elsewhere, Alvaro Morata remained an unused substitute as Spain came from behind to defeat Costa Rica 2-1 in Leon yesterday evening.
Johan Venegas’ strike gave the visitors a surprise lead after only five minutes, but Paco Alcacer made it 1-1 just 360 seconds with a composed finish.
And the comeback was soon complete just shy of the half-hour mark when the impressive Cesc Fabregas made no mistake by netting from a matter of yards.
Morata’s Spain now have a couple of days to prepare for Sunday’s Euro 2016 qualifier in Belarus where a victory could see them draw level alongside Slovakia at the top of Group E.
Tonight brings the turn of Azzurri quintet Gianluigi Buffon, Leonardo Bonucci, Claudio Marchisio, Andrea Pirlo and Alessandro Matri, who are all involved in Italy’s crucial Euro 2016 qualifier away at Croatia.
The game is set to get underway at 20.45 CEST, with Antonio Conte’s men looking to bag a win and overtake the Vatreni at the summit of Group H.