Eduardo Vargas leapt in the air and pumped his right fist in triumph as his shaggy hair swayed in the Bay Area breeze, only further demoralizing Mexico on the worst night in El Tri’s storied soccer history.
So much for Chile to celebrate as Vargas scored four goals, Edson Puch added two, and defending champion La Roja thoroughly dismantled Mexico from every angle in a 7-0 Copa America quarterfinal trouncing Saturday night.
Thousands of Mexico’s frustrated fanaticos already were long gone by the time El Tri’s worst defeat ever in an official match finally ended, right along with its team-record unbeaten streak in embarrassing fashion at 22 matches _ one day shy of a year since Mexico’s last loss, to Ecuador in the Copa group stage.
“First, I’d like to offer my most heartfelt apologies to the Mexican fans,” Mexico coach Juan Carlos Osorio said. “Today was a shameful presentation, an accident that happens in soccer. Obviously, there are bigger tragedies, but speaking in terms of sports, today was a very, very poor showing on our part. I repeat my apologies to all the people and fans.”
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 was swarmed yet again by a Chile team that left no question it has plans to follow up the country’s first Copa win last year with another special run.
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.
“First of all, with much happiness I don’t think it’s easy to be the coach of a team that has this kind of superiority on the pitch like we did today against an opponent of that quality,” Chile coach Juan Antonio Pizzi said. “It’s such a prestigious tournament so you might imagine the feelings we have of much happiness and at the same time caution. We are very conscientious of our work and know there are high points and low points.”
And a sold-out stadium of 70,547 that began the night like a Mexico home game quickly emptied of El Tri green-clad supporters as the clock wound down.
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 _ 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.
“I assume and accept all responsibility for this defeat,” Osorio said. “They controlled the midfield and won every single ball when we pressed them and defensively we were very fragile. … Everything started with my decisions. I erred with the selection of my starting lineup.”
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 in the semifinals Wednesday night in Chicago.
Chile’s only other win against Mexico in the Copa America came 2-1 in 2011.
La Roja 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 controlled 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.