Chile’s new regime under Reinaldo Rueda could not have started any better.
The Colombian tactician already showed some of the traits he will try to implement in La Roja. A high pressing without the ball, intensity when attacking, and constant movements on the flanks. That allowed Chile to dominate the game, and the result backed that up since they travelled to Stockholm and came away with a huge 2-1 win against World-Cup-bound Sweden. Goals from Arturo Vidal and Marcos Bolados (in the 90th minute) lifted La Roja to a huge win, while Ola Toivonen netted for the European side.
Chile’s dominant effort in the first half got them on top
Rueda’s team began with an attacking approach and they took control of the game right from the get go. Alexis Sanchez looked active on the final third, Vidal took control of the game in midfield, and the centre-back pairing of Enzo Roco and Guillermo Maripan worked beautifully at the back. Vidal was roaming free in midfield looking to get into an attacking position, while Sweden chose to adopt a counter-attacking approach. They couldn’t represent much of a threat on the final third, so it wasn’t much of a surprise to see Chile opening the score.
A short corner kick from Alexis was cleared by the defence, but Vidal was there to capitalise on the rebound. The Bayern Munich star fired a one-time volley right into the top corner that left Nordfeldt helpless. Chile fans in the venue cheered, but they didn’t have enough time to celebrate because Sweden quickly equalised the contest. Right on the next play, Ola Toivonen defeated Herrera when he placed the ball from the edge of the box after an impressive passing sequence.
The game slowed down in intensity after both goals, though. Chile continued to look better and moved the ball around, but they couldn’t penetrate Sweden’s organised defensive line. The first half ended with a 1-1 draw, but there was no question La Roja were on top of the game.
Chile’s winning-goal came from the bench
Chile’s substitutions in the second half sparked the team. Nicolas Castillo looked active and even though he couldn’t score, he tested the keeper time and time while looking lively in the final meters. He needs to improve his finishing when playing for the National Team. However, his strength and physicality represented a threat for the opposing defence. Diego Valdes’ vision and passing ability allowed the team to connect more accurately in the final meters, and Bolados looked impressive. Not many thought Bolados was worthy of having a spot in the NT, but the Universidad Catolica winger ended scoring the winning goal nearing the end of the match.
The winning goal was impressive, though. A lobbed ball over the defence found Alexis one on one with the goalkeeper. The Manchester United star couldn’t score, but the rebound fell to Bolados who pounced on the rebound and slotted it home past Nordfeldt.
The game ended shortly after and Chile proved the failure to qualify was nothing more than a step in the wrong direction. The new manager and the new generation of players proved Chile can remain competitive, and the team will have another tough test next week when they take on Denmark. But the first hurdle was completed, and Chile looked better than expected on Swedish soil. That’s always a step in the right direction.
Sweden: Kristoffer Nordfeldt; Ludwig Lustig (81′ Johan Larsson), Victor Lindelöf, Andreas Granqvist, Martin Olsson; Victor Claesson, Sebastian Larsson (79′ Oscar Hiljemark), Gustav Svensson, Emil Forsberg (79′ Ken Sema); Marcus Berg, Ola Toivonen
Chile: Johnny Herrera; Mauricio Isla (70′ Paulo Díaz), Enzo Roco, Guillermo Maripán, Jean Beausejour; Arturo Vidal, Charles Aránguiz, Pablo Hernández (61′ Diego Valdés); Alexis Sánchez, Eduardo Vargas (61′ Nicolás Castillo), Ángelo Sagal (71′ Marcos Bolados)
Goals: Vidal (0-1, 22′), Toivonen (1-1, 23′), Bolados (1-2, 90′)
Referee: Anthony Taylor (ENG)
Yellow Cards: Lustig (SWE); Isla, Vidal (CHI)
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