Tuesday 21 November 2017

Gonzalez helps red-hot Chile see off Swiss


Martin Petty in PORT ELIZABETH

Mark Gonzalez cracked open Switzerland's record-breaking defence to give Chile a hard-earned victory in Group H.

Gonzalez, who was born in South Africa, headed home a right-wing cross from Esteban Paredes in the 75th minute after Chile sprung the Swiss offside trap.

Just eight minutes earlier, Switzerland had set a World Cup finals record, beating Italy's old mark of 550 minutes without conceding a goal. It was the first goal they had let in at the finals since 1994.

Switzerland played most of the match with 10 men. Valon Behrami was sent off in the 31st minute after the referee adjudged that the midfielder had elbowed Arturo Vidal, who slumped theatrically to the ground clutching his face.


Switzerland had a chance to grab a draw in the 90th minute, but Eren Derdiyok, who was unmarked in the middle of the penalty area, shot wide.

Chile attacked the Swiss continuously and had their first chance after 10 minutes when Swiss goalkeeper Diego Benaglio made a superb double save from Vidal and then Carlos Carmona from long range.

Alexis Sanchez tested the Swiss defence early on, outpacing Reto Ziegler on the wing and cutting back to the oncoming Humberto Suazo, the top scorer in South American qualifying, who missed the ball completely.

Chile thought they had broken the deadlock soon after the break when Sanchez's strike from 25 metres deflected off Matias Fernandez and into the net, but it was ruled out for offside.

Chile -- Bravo, Carrizo, Isla, Medel, Jara, Carmona, Vidal (Gonzalez 46), Fernandez (Paredes 64), Sanchez, Suazo (Valdivia 46), Beausejour.

Switzerland -- Benaglio, Lichtsteiner, Von Bergen, Grichting, Ziegler, Huggel, Inler, Behrami, Fernandes (Bunjaku 77), Frei (Barnetta 42), Nkufo (Derdiyok 68).

Ref -- K Al Ghamdi (Saudi Arabia).

Irish Independent

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