With the ‘Chile Five’ suspended and Mauricio Isla out injured for the rest of the season a relatively unfamiliar La Roja XI came from behind to draw 1-1 with a strong Ghana side in Philadelphia.
With six Universidad de Chile players selected there was a degree of understanding in the squad in terms of partnerships and style of play. Four La U players found starting berths as Osvaldo González and Jose Rojas lined up beside a former comrade in Marcos González in defence; changed days from the usual trio of Waldo Ponce, Gonzalo Jara and Pablo Contreras. Matías Fernandez played ahead of an in-form midfield duo of Marcelo Díaz and Gary Medel. Matías Campos Toro and Charles Aránguiz were stationed on the wing. There was no place for Napoli’s Eduardo Vargas as Humberto Suazo partnered Alexis Sánchez in attack.
The Black Stars went ahead four minutes before the break through first-half substitute Richard Mpong, sending the sodden Ghanaian fans into raptures; warming themselves up in the process if anything else. Sulley Muntari shrugged off the attentions of Gary Medel to give himself enough time to locate the run of Mpong with perfectly executed whipped pass around the backline on the wet surface. All Mpong had to do was run onto the ball and slide it past Claudio Bravo first time.
Chile had it all to do with 20 minutes left as Campos Toro saw red for a second petty incident. The first booking came after he flicked his head into John Pantsil’s shoulder/ear. The second with a body check.
However Claudio Borghi’s side salvaged a draw in what was the first of four friendly matches before the tricky World Cup qualifying double header away to Bolivia and Venezuela. A penetrative one-two on the edge of the box between Matí Fernandez and Sánchez looked to have given the former a clear goal scoring chance but the Sporting Lisbon ‘fantatista’ was denied by a despairing block, but as the ball broke for Sánchez he was upended by Pantsil. And with 15 minutes remaining Fernandez confidently converted from 12 yards.
La Roja next welcome Peru to Chile on the 20th of March.