Chile starts its victory over Ecuador in Copa America Title

Kathmandu, June 12: Hosts Chile began their quest for a maiden Copa America title with victory over Ecuador in Santiago.

Midfielder Arturo Vidal was brought down in the box by Miller Bolanos in the second half and picked himself up to convert the penalty for Chile.

Former QPR man Eduardo Vargas netted the second, calmly slotting home, as Matias Fernandez was sent off late on.

Ecuador’s best chance fell to West Ham striker Enner Valencia, who struck the crossbar with a close-range header.

Chile have never won the competition in its 99-year history, coming runners-up on four occasions, the last being in 1987.

And having reached the last-16 of the 2014 World Cup, the Chileans are third favourites behind Argentina and Brazil to lift the trophy this year.

The top two sides from the three groups will progress to the quarter-finals, as well as the two best third-placed teams, with these sides lining up alongside Mexico and Bolivia in Group A.

Chile showed more intent in the encounter with some sharp, crisp passing, while Juventus’s Vidal andArsenal forward Alexis Sanchez combined well in the final third.

But they were unable to find a killer touch in front of goal early on as Sanchez stabbed an effort wide, while ex-QPR full-back Mauricio Isla came close as well.

Ecuador, who failed to make it out of their group at last year’s World Cup, were happy to sit back and use their pace on the counter-attack.

Striker Fidel Martinez forced Barcelona goalkeeper Claudio Bravo into a full stretch save.The game’s defining moment came from Vidal, who seemed to go down easily in the penalty area, but stepped up to score an unstoppable spot-kick into the top corner of the net.

They got their second six minutes from time, punishing poor Ecuador defending, as Sanchez played in Vargas who struck a low finish.

The match ended on a sour note for Chile after substitute Fernandez was dismissed for hacking down Juan Carlos Paredes in injury time.