Saturday, 13 October 2012 12:14
La Roja unable to make progress in rankings after stinging away loss in Quito.
The altitude at 10,000 feet and the relentless pressure put on by Ecuador’s strikers left the Chilean national soccer team gasping for breath in Quito Friday night, as the Ecuadorians soundly defeated them 3-1.
The match started off on a low note as a laundry list of familiar faces were not seen on the field. Starters Humberto Suazo and Claudio Bravo were both benched due to injuries, and coach Claudio Borghi had to watch the game from the skybox as he served his four-match ban, which FIFA recently lowered from five
Borghi will also surely come under scrutiny for his decision to replace team captian Bravo in the goal with Miguel Pinto, passing over the more experienced Johnny Herrera, who has yet to play for the national team this season despite his strong record playing for Universidad de Chile.
Ecuador set the pace from the first whistle, applying merciless pressure to the Chilean defense. The first real chance on goal came 10 minutes in, as playmaker Felipe Caicedo was able to advance within the box and fire a shot that went just over the post.
Ecuador kept up the pressure, and only desperate defending kept them from scoring. Center back Pablo Contreras crossed the line, however, and earned a yellow card after bringing down a breaking Cristian Benítez.
La Roja got a lucky break soon after, as what was shaping up to be a missed opportunity miraculously ended with the first goal of the game. After a rare break, a low cross from Mauricio Isla ended up at the feet of Ecuador’s Juan Carlos Paredes, who then bafflingly spanked the ball into his own net for an appalling own goal in the 25th minute.
The Ecuadorians quickly made up for their clumsiness just eight minutes later. After a simple through ball ripped the Chilean defense apart, Caicedo deftly collected, rounding Pinto and firing home to tie up the score.
Towards the end of the half, Chile was able to put a few more passes together, but they were ultimately lucky to have gone into halftime at 1-1.
The second half started even worse for La Roja, and Ecuador’s unyielding offense had two very real threats on goal within the first four minutes of play. Another foul in the box by Contreras in the 53rd minute gave them the chance they needed to make good on their threats and sent Contreras off with a red card.
The penalty was taken by Caicedo, who fired a shot at the bottom left corner that Pinto did well to deflect. The ball bounced right back at Caicedo, however, who hammered the ball straight into an open net to make his second goal of the game.
It wasn’t until the 60th minute that the Chilean team was able to get their first shot on goal of the half. One minute later, Caicedo broke away to threaten another goal, which was narrowly prevented by some great defending.
The chances created by La Roja in the final minutes of the game were few and far between, and it only got worse as midfielder Arturo Vidal received a straight red in the 85th minute.
Ecuador gave them one last sucker punch in extra time as a barely-covered Segundo Castillo headed in a corner kick from Jefferson Montero, effectively ending the game at 3-1.
With the latest defeat, Chile stays put in the middle of the South American standings at fifth place, and will have to bring a different kind of game to the Estadio Nacional in Santiago on Tuesday if it hopes to defeat group leader Argentina.
By David Pedigo (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Angus McNiece (email@example.com)
Copyright 2012- The Santiago Times