by Mosope Ominiyi

Although the Alexis Sanchez was a possible injury doubt before the match, the 26-year-old started Chile’s final Copa América group stage fixture – with mathematics confirming that neither side would be eliminated from Group A.

The other match in the group was a 2-1 victory in favour of Ecuador – ensuring they got their first points on the board against heavily-fancied Mexico. It is fair to say that the Mexicans had under-performed in the competition on the whole, and finished Group A with only two points recorded from a possible nine.

Sánchez, who has been the creative hub of the Chilean team for several years now, started the match quickly and with purpose, driving his team-mates forward as La Roja looked dangerous whenever they broke on the counter attack.

It did not take long for the tournament’s hosts to break the deadlock, three minutes in, actually. Eduardo Vargas teed up midfielder Charles Aránguiz inside the box, and he slammed the ball home from range into the bottom corner.

Juventus midfielder Arturo Vidal [ironically enough, a rumoured Arsenal target] – who was the subject of controversy after being arrested earlier in the week for a drink-and-drive offence where he crashed his Ferrari in Santiago, also started, and looked sharp on the ball.

Neither of Chile’s two key players finished the 90 minutes as their manager, Jorge Sampaoli, replaced both after the half-time interval.

Sánchez was unlucky not to have scored a brace just after the half-hour mark, when he saw two set-pieces hit the post and woodwork within minutes of each other. The first free-kick swerved over the wall, but hit the post as Alexis watched on frustrated. The goalkeeper, Romel Quinónez, was scrambling to his right to try and get a hand to the strike, as it seemed the well-struck effort was destined for the bottom corner. Alas, it was not to be.

Then, the second free-kick was of a similar quality. A few yards further out, it was again sweetly-struck but Sánchez’s strike curled above the goalkeeper’s left-hand corner and hit off the crossbar as the Bolivian backline scrambled the ball away to safety.

Although he could only find the net once –  a fantastically-placed effort even for his standards – Alexis was a livewire whenever he got on the ball. His electric pace, mazey dribbling and attacking runs into space for his team-mates to pass to, spelled trouble on more than a few occasions. He was brought off, and perhaps rightly so, as a precautionary measure to avoid injury ahead of more the important fixtures left to play.

Arsenal supporters will be purring having watched his display, because despite fears over burnout, Alexis was as impressive as ever.

On another day, he would have easily secured a first-half hat-trick.