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FIFA World Cup: Chile edge 10-man Switzerland 1-0 to inch closer to knock-outs

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alexis_sanchez.jpgAn all-round attacking display from a slick Chilean outfit got them a vital 1-0 win against 10-man Switzerland in a top-of-the-table Group H encounter at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium at Port Elizabeth today. With as many as 19 shots on goal and having enjoyed 70% of the possession, Chile were deserved winners in an encounter that was otherwise marred by some poor refereeing. An unprecedented 9 yellow-cards and Valon Behrami's sending off killed what could otherwise have been an entertaining encounter, as Switzerland were left to guard their citadel for almost an hour with 10-men.

Both Chile and Switzerland were coming on the back of 1-0 wins, Chile having trounced Honduras while Switzerland produced a brilliant defensive display to overcome favourites Spain by the same margin. Chile received a major boost with striker Humberto Suazo back in the squad, with the man having scored 12 goals in his country's qualification campaign. Switzerland made three changes to their team, with Steve von Bergen coming in place of the injured Philippe Senderos. Both Alexander Frei and Valon Behrami, having been declared fit, walked right back into the team too.

Though Suazo started the game on a wrong note, picking up a yellow card as early as the second minute, it was Chile who were clearly on the front foot in the opening minutes. Alexis Sanchez was at it with a 35-yard shot early on, and though Frei got a free-kick in a dangerous position minutes later, Chile were the first to trouble the rival goalkeeper. Diego Benaglio had to produce a double save as first Vidal and then Carmona fired in cracking drives, as the Chileans sizzled.

Sanchez kept pulling the strings finding Suazo in the box but the striker failed to connect. Sanchez then went on an amazing run, going through a horde of Swiss players only to be tackled by Von Bergen. The flowing game was soon restricted though, thanks to some extremely stringent and game breaking refereeing from Khalil Al Ghamdi, who was guilty of booking some very soft challenges. Blaise N'Kufo became the second player to be yellow-carded in the game, as the Swiss man was booked for a shirt tug. Minutes later Carlos Carmona went on the referee's book for a deserved yellow, though Waldo Ponce's yellow for kicking the ball away could probably been avoided.

With the momentum of the game already stifled, Valon Behrami's sending off in the 30th brought the game to a screeching halt. Behrami, involved in a touchline tussle with Vidal, was guilty of flailing his arm towards his opponent to become the recipient of a very harsh red card. While Behrami's motive was unclear, a red card was surely not what his actions called for, as the Swiss were left stunned.

The card was expectedly followed by a scratchy passage of play, with the angry Swiss players clearly frustrated with the decision. With the Swiss closing down even more, Chile slowly began exerting more pressure thanks to some brilliant work down the left flank from Jean Beausejour whose deliveries to both Suazo and Sanchez were dangerous enough to go into goal, only if the strikers could have produced better efforts.

Skipper Alexander Frei went off for Switzerland to be replaced by Tranquillo Barnetta in the dying minutes of the first half, even as Beausejour kept pressing from the left side. Jorge Valdivia replaced the unimpressive Suazo while Mark Gonzalez came in place of Vidal as Chile looked to move into top gear, with the second half underway.

Four minutes into the second half, Alexis Sanchez celebrated a deflected shot crashing into the net only to realize 30 seconds later that the offside flag was up. Valdivia and Sanchez then produced two saves from Benaglio in quick time, both players doing well to enter the area but managing weak shots, for the lack of any support. Gonzalez next should then have scored from a decent chance from 8-yards out but he could only head wide.

With yellow cards being showered around in the second half too, Chile managed to keep up the pressure with some scintillating football, and the game could well have been settled earlier, had the Chileans shown a little more quality in their finishing. It was finally courtesy a couple of substitutes in Esteban Paredes and Mark Gonzalez that Chile found the winner.

Within 10 minutes of coming on, Paredes broke the offside trap with a superb run, ran around the keeper before lobbing the ball up for Gonzalez for an easy header, which finally found the back of the net, to the huge relief on the Chilean bench. The goal opened the game up a bit, with Switzerland forced to come out of their shelves and push for an equalizer, leaving in turn, spaces at the back.

All of Sanchez, Paredes and Gonzalez had chances to put the matter beyond doubt in the final few minutes, but were guilty of not taking them. Sanchez had three players to pass but decided not to, Paredes had only the keeper to beat but missed, while Gonzalez could have laid it in the path of the advancing Sanchez but went for glory himself. Another golden chance was created by Paredes in the 90th minute, only for him to shoot inches wide.

Switzerland almost punished Chile for this, with Derdiyok through on goal in injury time, side-footing just wide of the post with only the keeper in front. That was as close as Switzerland could get though, as the referee soon whistled to announce a Chile win. The result means that Chile now have one foot in the knock-outs. The bad news for Chile though is they have not done much good to their goal difference in either win and should they lose to Spain and Switzerland thump Honduras in the final round of fixtures on the 25th of June, they could still go out on goal difference. Of course, Spain would also need to beat Honduras when they clash later tonight.

Teams:

Chile: Bravo (GK), Ponce, Jara, Medel, Fernandez (Paredes 65'), Carmona, Vidal (Gonzalez 45'), Isla, Suazo (Valdivia 45'), Beausejour, Sanchez.

Switzerland: Benaglio (GK), Grichting, von Bergen, Ziegler, Lichsteiner, Huggel, Inler, Fernandes (Bunjaku 77'), Behrami, N'Kufo (Derdiyok 68'), Frei (Barnetta 42').

Chile 1-0 Switzerland (Gonzalez 75')

Check out the Points Table

Also Read:

Spain 2 - 0 Honduras - Match Report

File Photograph Copyright: Ryu Voelkel

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