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Football Extras: Sanchez takes Chile to Copa quarters

June 22, 2019 10:35 IST

Alexis Sanchez

IMAGE: Alexis Sanchez celebrates scoring Chile's second goal. Photograph: Rodolfo Buhrer/Reuters

Alexis Sanchez shrugged off an ankle injury and continued his resurgent form at the Copa America. The Chile striker fired his side to a 2-1 victory over Ecuador on Friday which took the holders into the quarter-finals of the competition.

Chile took the lead in the eighth minute when Jose Fuenzalida volleyed into the net but Ecuador were awarded a penalty when goalkeeper Gabriel Arias clattered Jhegson Mendez, allowing Enner Valencia to level from the spot in the 26th.


Sanchez, who had ended a barren five-month spell by scoring in Monday's 4-0 win against Japan, put Chile ahead early in the second half, expertly guiding a bouncing cross into the net with one touch.

Ecuador, who were hammered 4-0 by Uruguay in their opening game, rarely threatened again and saw defender Gabriel Achilier receive a straight red card in stoppage time for a rash tackle on Arturo Vidal, who had to be taken off.

Sanchez later revealed he had been playing with an ankle injury sustained in the first half.

"After a cross I rolled my ankle but I put a bandage on it, I took a pill for the pain and I came out again," he told reporters.

"I think I have a sprain, I was playing with pain but I hope it's not too serious."

Chile coach Reinaldo Rueda praised Sanchez for playing on, adding that the ankle was not the same one he injured in May.

"He was evaluated by the doctors at halftime who said he could continue, although he put lots of ice on it at halftime. He made a huge effort in the second half," he said.

"We'll evaluate it again but we hope it isn't serious."

Chile, Copa champions in 2015 and 2016, lead Group C on six points. Uruguay are second on four with Japan third on one and Ecuador bottom with no points.

Ecuador still have an outside chance of sneaking into the quarter-finals as one of the two best ranked third-place finishers but they must win their game against Japan on Monday and hope other results go their way.

Their coach, Hernan Dario Gomez, gave the briefest of post-match news conferences, saying he was not in the mood to take questions and gave a short assessment of the game before leaving.

Egypt make winning start to Africa Cup of Nations

Mahmoud Trezeguet

IMAGE: Mahmoud Trezeguet celebrates scoring Egypt's only goal with Ayman Ashraf and teammates. Photograph: Suhaib Salem/Reuters

Mahmoud Trezeguet handed hosts Egypt a winning start to the Africa Cup of Nations with the only goal of Friday's opening game against Zimbabwe in a high tempo start to the tournament.

His 41st-minute strike proved decisive as Egypt missed out on a myriad of chances to make a bigger impact but will be satisfied to have taken the first three point haul of the month-long event.

Trezeguet's finish overshadowed a return to Cairo for Champions League winner Mohamed Salah, whose every touch was loudly cheered but who had a frustrating evening as he could not convert his chances.

A packed crowd of 70,000 – many of whom had queued from up to 12 hours before kick off to enter the stadium – ensured a heady atmosphere at the Cairo International Stadium.

Zimbabwe looked to feel the pressure as Egypt had ample opportunity to take an early lead.

Zimbabwe's goalkeeper Edmore Sibanda had a busy start with two saves inside the opening three minutes -- both times touching the ball clear of his goal from headed efforts.

Salah was involved in a slick passing move in the ninth minute that offered Abdallah El Said a chance to score the tournament's opening goal but again Sibanda saved well.

El Said then blasted wide with a similar chance from close range just three minutes later.

Salah's first effort came after 17 minutes as he cut in from the byline but had only a tight angle to work with and put it wide of the target.

Egypt had a scare as Zimbabwe took a quick free kick that caught the home defence napping but not goalkeeper Mohamed El Shennawi, who came out timely to smoother the opportunity.

Then Trezequet broke the deadlock.

Picking up the ball out wide, he collected it back inside the penalty area after a short pass, and then made a body check to shake off the defence and open room for himself to fire home a curling shot that gave Sibanda no chance.

Salah, who showed no signs of post-season fatigue after a long campaign with Liverpool, had Egypt's best chances of the second half but continued to be thwarted as Zimbabwe finished stronger. Ovidy Kararu's powerful shot was the closest they came to an equaliser, but it was saved by El Shennawi.

The Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda -- the other two teams in Group A -- will get their campaign underway on Saturday.