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Copa America Journal: Chile presses Mexico into submission 7-0 to reach Copa semifinal

All Chile, all night, as Mexico sees its 23-game unbeaten streak snapped in dramatic fashion.

John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- The last time that Mexico lost a match before Saturday night's 7-0 dismantling at the feet of Chile? One day fewer than one year ago, when El Tri dropped it's final 2015 Copa America contest in the same country that destroyed them in front of a sold-out Levi's Stadium.

This was not the Copa ending the overwhelmingly green-clad crowd of 70,547 -- the largest crowd ever to witness a soccer game at Levi's Stadium -- was expecting, and most of them were already in the parking lots before Chile scored its sixth and seventh goals of the rout.

A four-goal outburst from Eduardo Vargas was augmented with a goal from Alexis Sanchez and a brace from Edson Puch -- the first and last of Chile's seven goals -- as the 2015 Copa champion's relentless press created double-digit scoring opportunities for the Group C second place finishers.

"With much happiness, it was great to win against such an opponent in a prestigious tournament," said Chile head coach Juan Antonio Pizzi. "These players are writing a great story, and we hope to continue to reach our objectives.

"Today, we were right on target with our scoring today," continued Pizzi. "I thought we were superior to our opponent in every aspect of the game. We won every fight and every challenge. It has never crossed my mind how big this score was in justifying the result. It is not likely habitual for us."

The result was the most lopsided shutout in Chile's Copa America history, and it marked the worst-ever loss by Mexico in a major tournament. The largest margin of victory in Copa history came in 1942 when Argentina beat Ecuador 12-0 in what was then called the South American Championship.

"I want to give my most heartfelt apology to the fans of Mexico," said a visibly disappointed Mexico head coach Juan Carlos Osorio. "Today was a very, very poor showing on our part."

"I take all responsibility for this defeat," continued Osorio, who had not lost since taking over the reigns of El Tri last fall following their CONCACAF Cup championship victory over the USA.

Kickoff -- Chile going right to left across the pristine green surface, with El Tri in their all-Blanco kits play with the sun at their backs.

6' -- Already the first "Mexican Wave" of the evening, as the crowd apparently needed no prompting to get off their seats and on their feet. The decidedly pro-Mexico fans that have filled Levi's Stadium will need to keep up such a tempo if they want to help their team on the field. Currently, Chile has had the run of play to start the game.

10' -- Edson Puch with a breakaway, gets behind the Mexico defense, but Nestor Araujo makes a desperation tackle in the area to poke the ball away for a corner kick.

16' -- Goal for Chile! Puch is able to side-foot a rebound after Guiiermo "Memo" Ochoa made a spectacular diving save to deny a goal-bound effort. Memo made the goalkeeping cardinal sin of not pushing the ball wide, and Puch was in a perfect position to score into the poorly guarded net.

21' -- A little more urgency from Mexico, now playing down a goal. Andres Guardado, who El Tri will need to lead the attack from his central midfield station, is getting more of the ball now. Chile, to its credit, is playing very disciplined along the back line, frustrating forwards Chicharito and Jesus Manuel Corona.

23' -- First corner kick for Mexico, but Guardado hits it too low, and he is then flagged for offside when the rebound lands back at his feet.

29' -- Alexis Sanchez gets his first opportunity of the night, but he scuffs his effort from 15 yards out. The Arsenal forward, who many look forward to playing at nearby Avaya Stadium in the MLS All-Star Game in late July when the storied London club makes its way to San Jose, has been a non-factor against Mexico so far.

32' Marcelo Diaz tries a long-range effort, but it drifts well wide of the target. Mexico has had a few forays into the attacking third in the last two minutes, but Chile has repelled every effort with relative ease.

37' -- Chile scores... but the flag is up. And the goal is waved off. Excellent build-up by the Chilean attack, and a great finish goes for naught.

39' -- Yellow card for Arturo Vidal for a tough challenge on a 50/50 ball. It is the second yellow of the tournament for the Bayern Munich forward, so if Chile advances, he will have to sit out the semifinal against Colombia. Huge loss for Chile.

44' -- Goal for Chile! Eduardo Vargas takes a clever touch out of traffic on a pass into the six-yard box from Jean Beausejour and turns a beautiful shot past Ochoa to double the Chilean lead. It was a very well deserved goal, given the dominant half Chile has posted over Mexico, and the sold-out crowd was momentarily silenced.

Halftime -- Mexico looks dumbstruck as they leave the field, gobsmacked by a Chile side that is pressing early and pressing often. El Tri has had some room on the wings, but only long enough to extend their formation and make it even easier for Chile to counterattack. It's only 2-0 right now, but it looks like it could have been much more.

49' -- Goal for Chile! The high press is doing wonders for Chile, as another Mexico turnover deep in their own half is corralled by Vidal and fed to Sanchez for the easy goal. It's a master-class from Chile in how to overwhelm the midfield and control the tempo of the game. If Osorio delivered a halftime speech, it certainly wasn't enough to inspire Mexico.

52' -- Goal for Chile! Again! This time a misplayed ball in the center of the park allows Vargas to race uncontested behind the Mexico defense and slot home for his second goal of the game. Mexico has gone from dumbstruck to thunderstruck in under 10 minutes to start the second half.

57' Another goal for Chile! Vargas with the hat-trick as Vidal slashes a ball across the goal mouth that Memo Ochoa deflected right to the unmarked forward. A clean shot on target was simply a formality.

61' -- Mexico with an opportunity, but the Chilean defensive steps up to deflect a close-range shot out for a corner kick. Nothing comes of the follow-up, and everyone in the stadium goes back to sitting down dejectedly.

65' -- Another Mexico counterattack, snuffed out by Chile. The match has become a bit helter-skelter at this point, as no team ever trains with a 5-0 scoreline in mind.

67' -- Ochoa with a diving stop to keep Chile off the scoreboard. The popular goalkeeper is having a good game, but he has been absolutely undone by a relentless Chilean attack.

74' -- Vargas with his fourth goal of the night gives Chile a ridiculous 6-0 lead! The green-clad fans that are still in the stands quickly start heading for the exit following the Hoffenheim forward's tight angle effort.

88' -- And the perfect bookend for Chile, as Puch scores his second goal of the match. If this were a heavywieght boxing match, the white towel would have been thrown in from the Mexico corner long ago.

90' -- No stoppage time for this one, as referee Heber Lopes whistles the game over as soon as he was able. Chile moves on to face Colombia in the second semifinal, with the winner playing the winner of the USA vs. Argentina in the Copa America final next Sunday.

Postgame -- A small collection of Chile fans comes together in the stands near the center line, unfurls a giant Chile flag, and dances in celebration. And long after every green jersey has left the stadium, they continue to enjoy their country's biggest Copa victory ever.

Press conference -- First up was losing head coach Juan Carlos Osorio, who faced a barrage of questions that attacked his team's performance.

"We had a horrible game today," replied Osorio to a question of whether he would consider quitting after the one-sided loss. "I am trying to digest this defeat."

"This is soccer, but that is the way it goes sometimes," said Osorio of what is in store for Mexico moving forward. "It is too early to draw any conclusions."

"They [CONMEBOL players] are playing in a lot of foreign languages," said Osorio about the apparent gap in talent between CONCACAF and CONMEBOL teams in this tournament, "but that is missed by players in CONCACAF."

Next up was the winning head coach of Chile, Juan Antonio Pizzi, who was much more animated than when his team dropped a 2-1 match to Argentina at Levi's Stadium earlier in the tournament.

"The criticism for me, it was like a big truck full of explosives," said Pizzi of those in the media that were critical of him and the team in the months leading up to the tournament. I can't be stuck in the middle of the road when the truck is coming. I have to avoid it. But now I am driving the truck, and I need to be careful not to run anyone over."

"It is going to be quite difficult," said Pizzi of moving on to the semifinals against Colombia. "We are going to try again to impose our game. But it will hurt not to have Vidal. He is a very, very important player for us, but we believe we have the players available to be ready to face them."

"These high and lows that soccer gives you, the best way to handle them is to find an equilibrium," added Pizzi. "You have to find your weaknesses too in these games, because new obstacles will come up."

"I don't think in any way there is a seven goal difference between Chile soccer and Mexico soccer," said Pizzi of the lopsided 7-0 scoreline. "Today was a day that worked for us."