Saturday, March 25, 2017

Ecuador 3 Chile 0: Valencia shines as hosts return to form

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 6 Oct 2016


Antonio Valencia scored one and supplied another as Ecuador humbled Chile 3-0 in a 2018 World Cup qualifier at the Estadio Olimpico Atahualpa in the altitude of Quito.

After an electric start to their campaign that saw them top the CONMEBOL section, a run of four matches without a win had them fifth and out of the automatic qualification spots.

They returned to form in emphatic fashion, with Chile still searching for their first win since lifting the Copa America for the second successive year in June.

Juan Antonio Pizzi welcomed Claudio Bravo back into his side after he missed the previous two qualifiers against Paraguay and Bolivia due to personal reasons, but the Manchester City goalkeeper’s performance was laden with errors.

Bravo was beaten by Antonio Valencia for the opening goal and failed to stop the winger supplying a cross which was eventually hammered home by Cristian Ramirez in the 23rd minute.

Felipe Caicedo stabbed home the third within one minute of the restart as Chile paid the price for their lacklustre defending, arguably contributed to by the absence of Gary Medel due to suspension, with the gap to the top five in danger of growing.

Ecuador piled the pressure on Chile in the opening stages and Bravo was shown a yellow card for lunging in on Enner Valencia after losing control of the ball outside his box.

The hosts’ strong start soon brought about a goal, Antonio Valencia drilling the opener into the opposite corner after collecting Enner Valencia’s cross on the right-hand side of the box.

Antonio Valencia played a role in the second four minutes later, his cross not dealt with adequately by Mauricio Isla, though Bravo could have stopped it, and a miskick from Fidel Martinez fell to Ramirez, who thumped home his first senior international goal.

Eduardo Vargas missed a great opportunity to halve the deficit six minutes before half-time when he bent high and wide from 12 yards after finding space to receive the ball from Isla.

Bravo palmed away a 25-yard free-kick from Christian Noboa before the interval and was forced into actions 15 seconds after the restart to deny Enner Valencia.

However, Ecuador scored from their next attack seconds later. Enner Valencia rolled a pass back to Antonio Valencia, whose attempted shot was steered into the back of the net by Caicedo.

Chile began to see more of the ball but were unable to get Alexis Sanchez involved in the action until the 75th minute when he was released by Arturo Vidal.

Sanchez attempted to dink a shot over the onrushing Esteban Dreer, but the Ecuador goalkeeper got a hand up to keep the effort out.

Ecuador lost Enner Valencia to injury late on, the striker rushed from the pitch on a stretcher with an oxygen mask fitted, possibly making him a doubt for Tuesday’s match against Bolivia.

It could have been worse for Chile had a 20-yard strike from Noboa in stoppage time not come back off the bar, and they will need to quickly pick themselves up ahead of a meeting with Peru.


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