The second-largest crowd to see a soccer game at the Coliseum--59,328--saw Chile defeat Mexico, 2-1, Wednesday night in a game that kept the fans enthralled throughout.
The difference between two evenly matched teams was one player--Chile's Ivan (Bam Bam) Zamorano, the striker who is valued at $15 million by his club team, Real Madrid, the Spanish League leader.
Zamorano, the leading goal scorer in Spain this season, set up Chile's first goal in the 14th minute and scored the game winner himself in the 76th minute.
Both countries brought their strongest teams to Los Angeles, considering the game good preparation for the Copa America in Uruguay in July. But whereas Chile's defense was largely able to thwart Mexican striker Luis Garcia, Mexico's defense struggled to keep Zamorano in check.
Chile opened the scoring when Zamorano slipped a pass through the legs of Mexican defender Claudio Suarez to Marcelo Salas, whose shot into the upper left-hand corner of the net from about 15 yards gave Mexican goalkeeper Jorge Campos no chance.
Mexico tied the score 20 minutes later when midfielder Ignacio Ambriz beat a defender on the left wing and crossed to Garcia, who controlled the ball with his right foot and then sent a fierce shot past Chilean goalkeeper Alex Varas.
By halftime, the fans--including world champion boxer Julio Cesar Chavez--still were streaming into the Coliseum, having created massive traffic jams outside the stadium and delaying the kickoff by 10 minutes.
Mexico tried a novel tactic in the second half, moving Campos from goalkeeper to striker and replacing him in the net with Hugo Pineda.
But while Pineda made some dramatic saves, most noticeably against Zamorano, Campos made a complete hash of a clear-cut scoring chance.
Some nifty interplay by the Mexican attack saw Campos suddenly free, one-on-one against the Varas, just inside the penalty area. His shot, unfortunately for Mexico, was weak and easily saved.
Zamorano, given a similar chance, made no mistake.