Arturo Vidal and Eduardo Vargas scored late on to help Chile to a 2-0 win over Cameroon in a Confederations Cup clash in Moscow that saw the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) at the centre of controversy.
Bayern Munich midfielder Vidal rose highest after Alexis Sanchez’s cross and left goalkeeper Fabrice Ondoa no chance with a strong header in the 81st minute before Vargas put the result beyond doubt well into stoppage time.
Vargas previously felt he was unfairly denied a goal late in the first half, with the 27-year-old already celebrating, only to then be deemed to be in an offside position after VAR referral, even if replays of the goal did not provide any clarity as to whether he indeed found himself in an illegal position.
But VAR referral did see him add his name to the scoresheet in the 91st minute, with referee Damir Skomina initially disallowing the goal for offside, only to eventually award the strike after conferring with his assistant.
Juan Antonio Pizzi had opted to bench Sanchez for Sunday’s encounter as the Arsenal man continues his recovery from an ankle injury, but the attacker played a key role in his side’s win in the end as he had a hand in both goals.
The Chileans now meet Germany on Thursday in their second Group B game, while Cameroon face Australia on matchday two.
Chile made a sublime start to the game and could have gone a goal up after just one minute when Vargas hit the upright with a powerful low shot from inside the area, before Jose Fuenzalida called Ondoa into action with a half-volley after a fine piece of skill just minutes later.
Cameroon slowly grew into the game from there on and Vincent Aboubakar nearly took advantage of some poor play from Gary Medel, testing Johnny Herrera with a low shot after a rapid break, while Michael Ngadeu-Ngadjui had a goal disallowed for a foul on Vidal.
The Copa America holders largely dominated play, though, and Vargas found the net at last late in the first half with a fine finish after being played through by Vidal, only for the referee to controversially cancel the goal for offside after VAR referral.
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Pizzi brought on Sanchez after the break as Chile went in search of the opener, but the first chance of the second half fell to Hugo Broos’ side, Benjamin Moukandjo curling a free-kick just wide of the top corner.
Mauricio Isla should have handed the South American champions the lead with 20 minutes left after a corner from Leonardo Valencia, inexplicably heading wide at the far post from just yards out.
But Isla’s miss would matter little in the end as Vidal netted in the 81st minute, beating Ondoa with a fine header following Sanchez’s cross from the left.
And there was still more to come from Chile as Vargas made it two in the dying seconds of the game, firing home the rebound after Sanchez had his attempt blocked by a defender, with VAR referral needed to confirm the goal should indeed stand.
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