The creative brilliance of Chile was on clear display Tuesday night, and the relentless pressure paved the way to a Copa America Centerario quarterfinal berth.

Needing just a tie to advance to the knockout round, Chile went one step better with a 4-2 win over Panama in the Group D finale for both teams before 20,432 at Lincoln Financial Field.

Alexis Sanchez, who competes for Arsenal, and Eduardo Vargas, who plays for Hoffenheim, Germany, each scored two goals for the winners.

"Everything worked as we were hoping it would," said Chile coach Juan Antonio Pizzi.

"We scored from both sides and played down the middle and there were many reasons why we did win."

The defending Copa America champions will face Mexico in a quarterfinal Saturday at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif.

Panama needed a win to advance and made an opening statement by scoring the game's first goal in the fifth minute.

The Panamanians took advantage of a blunder by Chile keeper Claudio Bravo. A shot by Miguel Camargo bounced over Bravo and into the net. The keeper had committed himself to the ground too soon.

Earning the assist was Gabriel Gomez, who played in Philadelphia with the Union in 2012.

Chile didn't flinch and immediately began applying pressure, with midfielder Arturo Vidal, the Bayer Munich standout, along with Sanchez and Vargas doing most of the damage.

Vidal, who scored both goals in Chile's 2-1 Group D win over Bolivia, commands plenty of attention, or at least he should. In the first half, he was allowed to roam freely and Panama paid for its mistake.

The pressure finally paid off with a textbook give-and-go from Sanchez to Vidal back to Sanchez, whose close-range shot was saved by Jaime Penedo, the keeper who played the previous three seasons for the Los Angeles Galaxy. Vargas, who was following the play, tapped in the rebound for the equalizer in the 15th minute.

The roar from the fans in the stands was exceeded only by the hysterical cheering in the press box by the Chilean media. The reporters were no doubt unaware of the "no cheering in the press box" mandate that American reporters follow.

Panama played without four key players because of yellow card accumulation, the most notable being striker Blas Perez of the Vancouver Whitecaps.

After the early flurry and some strong runs, Panama played back on its heels for the rest of the half.

Penedo was forced to make some difficult saves, including one on a header by Vidal.

Chile took a 2-1 lead in the 43rd minute, when Sanchez fed Jean Beausejour, who in turn found Vargas. Leaving little doubt, Vargas finished matters with a leaping header.

Chile made it 3-1 in the 50th minute, when a Vargas chip was volleyed in by Sanchez, the force of the shot giving Penedo no chance.

After that, Panama began showing some life and got to within 3-2 on a header by Abdiel Arroyo in the 75th minute. Teammate Ricardo Buitrago sent a free kick that was headed backward by Vargas to Arroyo, whose header came from the left side of the six-yard box.

Sanchez scored an insurance goal on a header in the 89th minute and Chile was on its way to the knockout round.

mnarducci@phillynews.com

@sjnard