Tuesday 18 November 2014
Bolivia 3-2 Venezuela
Estadio Hernando Siles, La Paz
Match Highlights of Bolivia 3-2 Venezuela (YouTube user: ATB Red Nacional)
Bolivia (4-4-2): Quiñonez; Hurtado, Raldes, Gutiérrez, Morales; Lizio (Vaca 75′), Meleán (Chávez, 68′), Chumacero (Miranda, 46′), Arce; Saucedo (Vargas, 84′), Ramallo (Moreno, 46′).
Venezuela (4-2-3-1): Hernández; González (Carabalí, 88′), Vizcarrondo, Ángel, Cichero; Lucena, Acosta (Otero, 61′); M. Rondón (Rentería, 84′), Arango (Miku, 66′), Seijas; Martínez (Orozco, 81′).
In an entertaining encounter in which Bolivia enjoyed the better of the chances, Juan Carlos Arce ended the hosts’ 14-game winless run with a stunning 87th-minute strike that secured their first victory over Venezuela since March 2005.
La Vinotinto – who have now won just one game in their last eleven – were unable to conjure up a convincing response to their 5-0 trouncing at the hands of Chile, as their defensive shortcomings were repeatedly exploited throughout the game – not least in the opening ten minutes.
Indeed, this opening period of play highlighted familiar frailties as El Verde created numerous chances from the flanks, especially on their right where Argentina-born Damián Lizio, in particular, easily got the better of left-back Gabriel Cichero, who has come in for severe criticism in the Noel Sanvicente era.
The experienced Mineros de Guayana man was not alone in struggling to effectively track his man in the early stages, as international debutant Wilker Ángel and even his centre-back partner Oswaldo Vizcarrondo both allowed Carlos Saucedo and Rodrigo Ramallo clear sights of the goal from these crosses. While neither man could convert these chances, they were to be far from their only opportunities in this game.
Following Venezuela’s first two forays into opposition territory culminating with Juan Arango’s free-kicks sailing over the bar (the first one marginally more so than the second), Saucedo was left completely free in the centre of the area from a corner but he mistimed his header which was misdirected over the crossbar.
However, despite the home side clearly having the better of the early chances, it was the returning Luis Manuel Seijas who came closest to scoring when, out of nowhere with 26 minutes on the clock, he lashed a left-footed strike from over 25 yards that rattled off the Bolivian crossbar.
As has often been the case since Sanvicente took over, Venezuela’s few half-chances came from set-pieces rather than open play and these did little to threaten Quiñonez’s goal until the 38th minute, when Arango stood over the ball 45 yards out in the centre of the pitch. With a graceful swing of his iconic left foot, he lofted a ball towards the middle of the area where the head of Ángel – judging by his reaction seconds afterwards – met it with the faintest of touches to give the visitors a surprise 1-0 lead.
Yet two minutes later Ángel’s debut goal elation was abruptly halted by a Bolivian equaliser from captain Ronald Raldes who ran unchecked and leapt behind Ángel to unequivocally head home the corner, emphatically scoring his first international goal on what was his 81st appearance.
For the last five minutes of the half, Bolivia continued to have joy from the flanks but Venezuela were to close the half with a notable chance of their own when Josef Martínez was played through from the left by Arango – a rare instance of the visitors getting in behind the hosts – and had his low shot blocked by Quiñonez.
Five minutes into the second half, Arango had a fantastic opportunity to regain the lead for Venezuela but, on the volley, he elegantly side-footed Mario Rondón’s right-sided cross a couple of yards wide.
Soon afterwards, the hosts continued as they had started the game and went ahead in the 52nd minute when Miguel Hurtado, allowed much space on the right by the reticent Cichero, curled in a cross that Lizio gracefully glanced into the far corner.
Despite Venezuela frequently looking vulnerable on the flanks, on the hour-mark Sanvicente decided to make an attacking change, withdrawing defensive-midfielder Rafael Acosta for attacking midfielder Rómulo Otero. It was a much-needed substitution as, the Arango chance aside, they had not created anything of note in the half, yet when they next did, Otero was to be the catalyst.
Indeed, in the 70th minute, the Caracas man received a pass 45 yards out, turned and played a well-weighted ball forward that his former club team-mate Alexander González ran onto on the inside-right, taking one touch to chest the ball forward and another to blast it into the roof of the net.
At this point, it seemed that Venezuela had salvaged something in spite of themselves, especially so after Joselito Vaca’s cross-cum-shot on 79 minutes was diverted into the net by Saucedo only to be ruled out due to the Deportivo Saprissa striker being correctly ruled offisde.
Alas, it was not to be, as with just three minutes of regulation time left, Juan Carlos Arce received the ball on the left, cut over onto his right and, in a generous amount of space, fired a right-footed cracker into the top corner to give his country a morale-boosting victory.
By contrast, Venezuela may feel rather downbeat as they have conceded eight goals in their last two games and struggled to make good opportunities from open play. In mitigation, these problems have occurred against, firstly, one of the continent’s best sides as well as another in altitude conditions that they were not accustomed to, all the while suffering from several key absentees. Nevertheless, with La Vinotinto not scheduled to play again until March and soon likely to receive a tough Copa América draw, Noel Sanvicente can expect to find himself and his team on the receiving end of some negative editorials full of foreboding for some time yet to come.