By Akshit Kaushik
Chile vs Portugal : Review
Last night in the Confederations Cup two stalwarts of the game – Chile and Portugal currently ranked no.4 and no.8 respectively in world football locked horns for a place in finals for the coveted prize. This was the 4th meeting between the two nations with The Selecaos edging out La Roja on previous two occasions and sharing the points in one. It was a 9pm kickoff on the turf of Kazan and fans made the trip in numbers from either side and also well over 20 ,000 spectators from the hosting country making their presence felt. The team selection for Portugal is never an easy assignment for Coach Fernando Santos who is blessed with huge depth of multifarious players similar to like France in his squad, Eliseu started in place of injured left back Raphael Gurreiro and Adrien Silva was preferred ahead of Joao Moutinho and Pepe sat out courtesy of 2 yellow cards he accumulated while on the contrary for Chile it was routine playing 11. The scoreline after full time whistle evidently stated why both teams had the best defensive records in the tournament conceding just twice in 3 matches, the teams paralleled each other in all departments of the game and after 120 minutes of meddling Chile ousted Portugal out of the Confederations Cup and culminated to the final stage, they have never won a FIFA tournament previously.
The first half started with both teams trading blows at either ends but the goalkeepers were up to the challenge, Alexis Sanchez carved a defence splitting pass for Eduardo Vargas who seemed shell shocked in the situation and saw his shot saved by the goalkeeper, moments after Cristiano Ronaldo found Andre Silva with his sublime pass from the left but the AC Milan marksmen failed to convert the chance and the ball ended up between Claudio Bravo’s feet. Portugal then controlled possession for a period of time and threatened the Chilean defence constantly between 10’-15’ with persistent crosses into the box and looked ominous on counter attacks. Chile fought back into the game after opening first quarter of the game and began to move the ball swiftly in the midfield where they left huge chunks of spaces in the start, Isla and M.Diaz were particular standout players who could be credited with good performances in that first half while Jara did well to keep Ronaldo at bay also Jean Beausejour matched his counterpart well. There were some open chances to Andre Gomes who only plundered his shots wide or the connection wasn’t too well.
The second half saw a dull start with both teams trimming each other’s short passes and neither of them seem certain to score until Vargas produced a stunning effort from a overhead kick in the 58th minute only to be matched by Rui Patricio at the near post then on the counter Ronaldo smashed a fine strike in the hands of Bravo who touched the ball more than any other Portugal player till the 70th minute mark. Vidal forced some long shots but was wide while quick feet from Bernardo Silva also created some half chances for Portugal. With the game imminent in going into extra time Portugal brought Nani and Quarsema into the mix and Chile introduced Martin Rodriguez.
The best effort of the game came in 119th minute for Chile with Vidal smashing the sidebar with his thumping drive and Rodriguez had a second attempt to snuggle the ball in the net but he ended hitting the crossbar and moments after Alexis Sanchez saw his powerful shot blocked by Jose Fonte only to his frustration. The penalty shootout was all about the brilliance and composure of Claudio Bravo who anticipated the first 2 shots correctly and masterminded the 3 to see his team through in the finals where they will face the winner of Germany-Mexico at Saint Petersburg Stadium on 2nd July.