Alexis impresses in Copa America win over Japan
Manchester United forward Alexis Sanchez scored and registered an assist as Chile earned a comfortable 4-0 win over Japan in the Copa America at Morumbi Stadium in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
The 2015 and 2016 champions took the lead against a youthful Japanese side after 42 minutes thanks to a towering header from midfielder Erick Pulgar.
Veteran striker Eduardo Vargas then scored in a fourth consecutive major tournament by doubling Chile’s lead in the 54th minute.
Alexis made it 3-0 with a diving header from close range in the 82nd minute and our no.7 punched the air in celebration afterwards. It was his first goal in all competitions for club and country, since his strike against former side Arsenal in the Emirates FA Cup fourth round back in January.
A minute later, our man supplied the pass from which Vargas scored again to round off a fine victory for Chile which places them top of Group C alongside Uruguay, following their 4-0 win over Ecuador.
Alexis was later presented with the official Man of the Match award, following his 41st goal and 124th cap for Chile.
It could be a long tournament for Japan, meanwhile, who have been invited to Brazil as guests alongside Qatar.
The Chileans are considered to be outsiders to win the tournament with what is an ageing squad assembled by manager Reinaldo Rueda, but Alexis remains confident they are on the right track and have a great chance.
“I think we have improved as a team since 2015 in defending and getting on the attack quickly,”he said overnight.
“We've won a very difficult game and now we have to think about our next one.”
After the final whistle in Sao Paulo, Alexis discussed his current form and fitness.
“For six weeks I felt worse than I ever have before,” he told reporters in Brazil.
“I struggled in the first half as I felt stifled but in the second half I was more relaxed and played with more freedom and excitement.”
Alexis is set to feature in Chile’s next Copa America match, against Ecuador and former United team-mate Antonio Valencia this weekend.
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