Tuesday, 11 October 2011 22:23
Chile’s “la Roja” squad redeems itself following last week’s defeat in Argentina.
Tensions were high in Chile’s “Estadio Monumental,” but in a “must-win” match on an unseasonably cold evening in Santiago, it took only one minute and a half for Chilean fans to breathe a sigh of relief when Waldo Ponce headed a corner kick into the goal against the Peruvian opponents.Photo courtesy of Comunicaciones ANFP.
The Chileans should normally have been favored on home turf, but up against a powerful Peruvian squad empowered following a recent impressive 2-0 win against a strong Paraguayan team, Chile knew it had its work cut out for it. Moreover, after Chile’s humiliating 4-1 loss to Argentina last week and rumors of the imminent dismissal of Chile’s coach, Claudio Borghi, no one in Chile was taking anything for granted.
Relief turned to joy several minutes later when Eduardo Vargas slammed a brilliant pass from Jean Beausejour into the Peruvian net. Chile’s defense had some close calls during the first half, including two attempts by Peruvian star Paolo Guerrero, the first a goal that was nullified due to an offside call, and the second, a brilliant strike that hit the Chilean goalpost. But “la Roja” headed for the locker rooms with a solid 2-0 lead at half-time.
The second half began much as the first had started – with a sudden Chilean goal in the first two minutes surprising the hapless Peruvian defense. This time it was a missile fired from over 20 meters from Chile’s Gary Medel, giving “la Roja” a 3-0 lead and apparently sealing the deal.
At that point, however, the Chileans may have become a bit complacent and shortly thereafter Chilean goalkeeper Claudio Bravo inexplicably failed to stop a rebounded kick from Peruvian Claudio Pizarro following a long-distance attempt from Jefferson Farfán. Then, in the 60th minute, Farfán outwitted the Chilean goalie from short range and fired an unlikely goal into the net from a difficult angle.
Chilean fans were now getting a bit nervous but they also knew they were witnessing a thriller – and a match that measured up to what the Chilean press termed the “Classic of the Pacific”.
With only a one goal advantage, Chile went to work. In the 63rd minute, after the Peruvian goalkeeper fouled a Chilean striker in the penalty area, Chilean stalwart Humberto “Chupete” Suazo fired in a penalty goal to give “la Roja” a 4 -2 lead.
For the rest of the match, the Chileans acquitted themselves well against a robust and impressive Peruvian offensive team, with goalie Claudio Bravo stopping several attempts.
In the end, Chilean triumphed and Chilean coach Borghi was greeted with hugs from his assistants and players, and appeared to have survived - at least for another day.
By Rick Helm (email@example.com)
Copyright 2011 – The Santiago Times