Chile’s Copa America hangover continued on Tuesday after they were held to a goalless draw by Bolivia in CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying.
Champions of South America for a second successive year in June, Chile welcomed Bolivia to Santiago as overwhelming favourites, despite their loss in Paraguay last week.
But Chile were left frustrated once again, this time by FIFA’s 110th-ranked nation on home soil, though Juan Antonio Pizzi’s men were not without their chances.
Eduardo Vargas was denied twice by Bolivia goalkeeper Carlos Lampe in quick succession in the first half, while Juan Carlos Arce almost stole three points for the visitors after the break.
The stalemate moved seventh-placed Chile to 11 points from eight matches, four more than Bolivia and five adrift of leaders Uruguay.
Chile were forced into one change, with tenacious midfielder Gary Medel – sent off late in the loss to Paraguay – replaced by Rodrigo Millar.
The Bolivians made three changes to the team that upstaged Peru 2-0 last week, keeper Lampe, Martin Smedberg-Dalence and Yasmani Duk coming in for Romel Quinonez, Jhasmani Campos and Pablo Escobar.
Chile made a scintillating start to the match, coming close to an opener within 30 seconds of kick-off after Vargas’ darting run deep into the penalty area resulted in the ball falling kindly to Jose Pedro Fuenzalida, but his effort was straight at the keeper.
The superior Chileans continued to dominate and they had another two opportunities to break the deadlock, both via Vargas.
Picked out from a quick corner, an unmarked Vargas was denied by Lampe in the 13th minute and the Bolivia keeper repeated the feat just seconds later, diving low to push away the forward’s header.
As the half wore on, Bolivia slowly began to frustrate their star-studded opponents, though Chile did manage to find the back of the net three minutes before half-time, but it was ruled out following a foul on the keeper.
The second half was not as free-flowing, Bolivia implementing time-wasting tactics to disrupt the Chileans, who pushed more and more numbers forward, while the visitors posed a threat on the counter-attack.
A teasing cross from Chile’s Eugenio Mena almost found Fuenzalida and Arturo Vidal on the hour-mark, however, an outstretched Lampe scrambled to collect the ball.
There was a heart-in-mouth moment for Chile and the home faithful four minutes later when Arce’s effort was blocked and cleared off the line.
A cross-cum-shot from Vidal had Lampe scrambling but the keeper avoided an embarrassing moment, tipping the ball over the crossbar with 10 minutes remaining as Bolivia earned just their seventh away point in World Cup qualifying.
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