Chile gets closer to round of 16
Chile went a long way toward qualifying for the knockout stage of the World Cup on Monday with a 1-0 victory over Switzerland.
Mark Gonzalez headed in a cross from Esteban Paredes in the 75th minute in the Group H match at Nelson Mandela Bay in Port Elizabeth to lift Chile to a 2-0 mark. Gonzalez had come off the bench at the start of the second half.
"We had some good luck near the end when we got the goal," Gonzalez said. "We just kept trying our best, trying hard, and we got the goal. This was a great moment for me and for our team."
The result kept the South American teams unbeaten. Chile, Brazil and Argentina have won both games while Uruguay and Paraguay have a win and a draw each.
Chile gained an advantage when Valon Behrami of the Swiss was given a red card in the 31st minute for violent conduct with Chile's Arturo Vidal.
"For me, it was just an unbelievable decision," Behrami said.
"There was small contact with my hands on his neck, and he went down like [he was hit with] an elbow. Everyone can make a mistake, but this mistake was very, very big for me because it's a dream to play in a World Cup."
Vidal admitted he was surprised by the red card.
"I felt his elbow on my neck," Vidal said. "It was a definite yellow card, but I wasn't expecting a send-off."
Switzerland coach Ottmar Hitzfeld agreed, saying said "the red card was not a red card by my standpoint" and accused the Chilean player of putting on "quite a performance."
"Getting a red card made it difficult to defend our goal for another 60 minutes, particularly against a team like Chile," Hitzfeld said. "The red card was not even a yellow card. Of course I was angry."
Chile celebrated after putting the ball in the net early in the second, but three of their players were offside. After Gonzalez scored, each team missed prime chances to score.
Switzerland, which could have advanced to the round of 16 with a win, fell to 1-1. Eren Derdiyok was the player all in the clear late in the second half with a chance to equalize, but his low shot went wide of the post.
Spain still has a chance at winning the group despite its upset loss to the Swiss last week.
Spain plays later Monday against Honduras (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 2 p.m. ET).
Switzerland-Honduras and Chile-Spain will be the final group stage games in the World Cup, taking place on Friday afternoon.
"We are in a good position, and we have one more game to prove ourselves even more," Gonzalez said of the match against Spain at Pretoria.
Chile had all the first-half pressure, even before Behrami's sending-off, with four of nine shots on target, while Switzerland had none of its three shots on target.
Alexis Sanchez nearly scored in the 55th minute but was thwarted on the right side by Switzerland goalkeeper Diego Benaglio.
Chile included striker Humberto Suazo in its starting lineup, while Steven Von Bergen replaced injured defender Philippe Senderos for Switzerland. Senderos, who has an injured his right ankle, will also miss Switzerland's final group match against Honduras at Bloemfontein.
Suazo was replaced by Jorge Valdivia to start the second half, and it was not immediately clear if Suazo had reinjured his ankle.
Chile midfielders Arturo Vidal and Carlos Carmona had back-to-back excellent chances from about 25 yards out in the 10th minute, both blocked by Benaglio.
It took an over-anxious Suazo only 90 seconds to be booked by Saudi Arabian referee Khalilk Al Ghamdia for a hard tackle. Blaise Nkufo of Switzerland and Carmona were booked a minute apart for challenges on each other.
It was Carmona's second booking of the World Cup, meaning he will miss Chile's final match against Spain on Friday in Pretoria.
Hitzfeld said he was confident of Switzerland advancing despite the setback.
"I'm sure that if we win against Honduras, we will qualify for the round of 16," he said of Friday's match at Bloemfontein.
With files from CBCSports.ca