Belo Horizonte, June 23: Venezuela booked their spot in the Copa America quarter-finals with a Darwin Machis-inspired 3-1 win over Bolivia in Belo Horizonte on Saturday (June 22).
Rafael Dudamel's side entered the clash on the back of a pair of goalless draws but Machis brought his shooting boots, his well-taken double firing Venzuela into the knockout stages.
The Cadiz man opened his account in the second minute with a close-range header and made it two in the 55th minute with a curling effort from the edge of the penalty area.
And although Leonel Justiniano netted for Bolivia, Josef Martinez was on hand to nod in an 86th-minute goal that settled the result.
The win - and Brazil's 5-0 triumph over Peru - sees Venezuela finish second in Group A and they will now play either Paraguay, Qatar or Argentina in the last eight, while the result ended Bolivia's abysmal tournament, in which Eduardo Villegas' side failed to earn a point.
4 - Darwin Machís🇻🇪 es el 4° venezolano que anota un doblete en la historia de la Copa América; es el primero desde que José Luis Dolgetta lo lograra en 1993, ante Estados Unidos (Carlos Maldonado en 1989 vs Colombia; Antonio Ravelo en 1967 vs Bolivia). Maravilla.#CopaAmerica pic.twitter.com/AmPdGMa6uX— OptaJavier (@OptaJavier) June 22, 2019
Despite successive defeats to Brazil and Peru, Bolivia still had hopes of reaching the last eight due to the tournament rules that see two of the three sides who finish their group in third progress.
Those hopes took a hit in less than 90 seconds, though, Ronald Hernandez's cross from the right powerfully nodded in by Machis.
Bolivia came close to producing a quick reply when Cristian Arano's strike from the edge of the area was superbly tipped onto the post by Wuilker Farinez.
And the woodwork again denied Bolivia when defensive midfielder Raul Castro fired into the post from 18 yards just five minutes after coming on.
But while Bolivia controlled possession, Venezuela always looked threatening on the break, with Jefferson Savarino drawing a fine save out of Carlos Lampe on the stroke of half-time.
And that rung true 10 minutes after the resumption, as Venezuela captain Tomas Rincon fed Machis, who produced a stylish finish into the top-right corner.
Jhon Chancellor nearly made sure of the three points but watched his header hit the post and with just eight minutes left, Bolivia pulled a goal back through Justiniano's 18-yard effort.
Martinez produced a swift response, though, as Venezuela claimed a deserved and momentum-building victory.
What does it mean? Venezuela's charge to continue
Dudamel's men entered the tournament in encouraging form, with wins over Argentina (3-1) and United States (3-0) boosting spirits.
That form has flowed into Copa America and Venezuela are not only unbeaten, but they have conceded just one goal.
Machis the man of the moment
A move to Udinese did not really work out for Machis in the recently completed season, but eight goals in just 15 Segunda Division appearances for Cadiz showed his worth.
More outings like this could see Machis on the move again.
Pressure on Villegas set to mount
Villegas said when taking charge of Bolivia for the second time that his side would "fight to achieve important things".
He also said it was his 'desire and intention to make it to Qatar', but Villegas will be doing well just to make it through 2019 after a disastrous tournament.
Bolivia did not get a point at the event and scored just once, conceding nine times in the process.
Venezuela will have an eye on Sunday's Group B encounters as they wait to see who they will play in the last eight, while Bolivia head home following a tough week in Brazil.