Chile consolidated its position in fourth place on the qualification table for the 2014 World Cup after an impressive 2-1 victory away to Paraguay in the Estadio Defensores de Chaco in Asunción.
Jorge Sampaoli pulled off somewhat of a surprise by not starting the returning David Pizarro as he opted for a 3-4-3 formation with a back three of Marcos González, José Rojas and Gary Medel. In the middle of the pitch he opted for Mauricio Isla on one wing and Eugenio Mena on the other with Arturo Vidal and Marcelo Díaz in the centre of the park. Up front Sampaoli chose the front three of Eduardo Vargas, Esteban Paredes and Alexis Sánchez.
Chile started the match on the front foot and almost opened the scoring in the first minute as Vidal hit the post with Paraguayan goalkeeper Justo Villar, who has been linked with Colo Colo, well beaten. Before the clock reached the twenty minute mark the front three of Vargas, Paredes and Sánchez as well Marcos González all having chances to open the scoring. Much of Chile’s attacking threat was coming through Mena and Isla on their respective flanks and were amongst la roja’s best in the opening forty-five minutes.
However it wasn’t until the fortieth minute that Chile’s attacking efforts finally came to something as Eduardo Vargas brought back some memories of his time at Universidad de Chile as he fired home a long range effort that left Justo Villar with no chance.
It was a much different Paraguay side that came out in the second half as they looked to keep their very slim hopes of qualification alive but it was still Chile who created most of the chances of the opening minutes of the half with both Sánchez and Paredes having chances in the 47th and 51st minutes respectively. And it was Sánchez who was involved five minutes later as he played a delightful one-two with Arturo Vidal that caught the Paraguayan defence napping with the Juventus midfielder volleying home from close range to double Chile’s advantage.
Following the goal la roja whilst maintaining a modicum of control took the foot off the pedal somewhat allowing Paraguay a few chances of their own with Claudio Bravo called into action in the 66th minute to deny Edgar Benítez. Meanwhile Chile’s best chance to add a third came in the latter stages courtesy of substitute Matías Fernández whose goal bound effort from a free kick was tipped over the bar by Villar.
La roja did have a nervous last few minutes after an errant Marcos González pass was pounced on by Roque Santa Cruz in the 88th minute to pull a goal back for the home side but the visitors managed to hold on for a much deserved three points.
After what was Chile’s most impressive performance in these World Cup Qualifiers they maintain their fourth position on the table with eighteen points, two points behind third placed Ecuador and two points ahead of fifth placed Venezuela.
Paraguay 1-2 Chile