Chile fell 10-man Swiss to close in on last 16
Chile continued their dream World Cup run with a 1-0 defeat of 10-man Switzerland in Port Elizabeth on Monday to move within touching distance of the last 16.sports Updated: Jun 21, 2010 22:52 IST
Chile continued their dream World Cup run with a 1-0 defeat of 10-man Switzerland in Port Elizabeth on Monday to move within touching distance of the last 16.
The South Americans climbed to the top of Group H after second half substitute Mark Gonzalez finally broke down a steely Swiss defence in the 75th minute.
Chile, who had beaten Honduras 1-0 last week, will be assured qualification if Monday's late game between Spain and Honduras ends in a draw.
Switzerland, stunning 1-0 winners over favourites Spain in their first match, were up against it after going a man down on 30 minutes when Valon Behrami was sent off.
The West Ham midfielder was given his marching orders by Saudi Arabian referee Khalil Al Ghamdi for a tangle with Arturo Vidal after he appeared to elbow the Bayer Leverkusen player in the face.
Swiss coach Ottmar Hitzfeld criticised Behrami's sending off and expressed optimism that with minnows Honduras to come on Friday the Swiss could still progress.
"I was angry about the red card," he said.
"I thought Vidal was rolling round too much on the floor trying to get a red card.
"The players are disappointed, they fought very hard, almost beyond their limits with no reward. We've got to come to terms with this defeat and look forward. We still have an excellent chance of qualifying, I'm sure if we beat Honduras we'll go through."
Chile coach Marcelo Bielsa professed ignorance to the incident.
"I didn't see what happened from where I was standing," said the Argentinian, who failed to guide Argentina into the second round in the 2002 finals.
"I didn't see it either on the television screen afterwards so I can't comment about this particular incident."
He added: "We haven't qualified yet, we have Spain on Friday. We will try to showcase our talents again then."
Four minutes before the interval Hitzfeld made a tactical switch, pulling off striker Alexander Frei and replacing the team captain with Bayer Leverkusen midfielder Tranquillo Barnetta.
After the break Bielsa replaced midfielder Vidal with Gonzalez, the CSKA Moscow striker.
Alexis Sanchez thought he had scored in the 49th minute, celebrating ecstatically only to then see out of the corner of his eye the linesman's flag raised for offside.
The Swiss were having to defend with a capital D against a country that had only come in one point behind Brazil in qualifying.
It was all Chile as the ball rarely left the Swiss side of the Nelson Mandela Bay pitch.
Trigger happy Al Ghamdi dished out three yellow cards in the space of one minute to Swiss defender Reto Ziegler and Chilean duo Gary Medel and Matias Fernandez - his overall tally for the game was nine yellow and the red.
Chile finally made the breakthrough they had been threatening for so long when Esteban Paredes, who had only entered the fray 10 minutes earlier as a replacement for Matias Fernandez, raced around Benaglio and found Gonzalez who headed into an empty goal.
Gonzalez, who has revived his club career at CSKA Moscow after a disappointing spell with Liverpool, said that things had worked out ideally for him and his team-mates.
"This is fantastic. We prepared hard and I was lucky enough to get the goal today, so what could be better? We had to be patient, but now we can pretty much dream of the last 16," he said.
Switzerland almost grabbed an unlikely last minute equaliser when substitute Eren Derdiyok shot just wide of Bravo's left post.
Small consolation but the Swiss set a new World Cup record of 559 minutes played without scoring a goal, to overtake Italy's mark of 550 minutes.
Chile's Italy-based Carlos Carmona will miss the closing first round clash with Spain after picking up a second booking.
First Published: Jun 21, 2010 22:48 IST