Week 15 took on an unusual look due to local elections in Chile, meaning no games on Sunday. So instead we had games spread over four three days; Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Monday (I’ll get to that at the end). However it did not detract from the importance of the third last round of fixtures with relegation, relegation play-off and play-off places all still up in the air; a feature of the Primera División, with only 17 games in each tournament the league table always remains close.
There were a number of surprises as the top three were all defeated, including Colo Colo, allowing Palestino to nip in and overtake the aforementioned Colo Colo, Deportes Iquique and Rangers to the top of the table.
In the middle of the Clausura, in the scrap for a play-off place, little changed in the way of position but in terms of closeness the competition for places is at boiling point with nine teams separated by four points with three places realistically up for grabs.
At the bottom it is tight but with only five teams realistically involved; four points separating the five teams.
Santiago Wanderers 2-1 Deportes Iquique
As Universidad Católica struggled to an away goals victory in Brazil against Atlético GO in the Copa Sudamericana the first game of week 15 was kicking of in Valparaiso; bottom of the table Santiago Wanderers welcomed second place Deportes Iquique.
In the build-up to the game officials and players at Wanderers were threatened with an internet message basically encouraging them to win or bad things would happening. Whether it was the message that spurred them on or their gradual improvement under Ivo Basay they got the required victory.
The three goals came in an exciting yet controversial first half. Ariel Colzera put Wanderers in front with a superb side-foot volley; watching the ball come into his path, under pressure, just inside the box he opened his right foot and guided the ball into the corner – magnificent technique.
Then came the moment of controversy which held the game up for over five minutes. Iquique had a period of pressure in the Wanderers box, the ball eventually headed towards goal. The header looked like being a comfortable save for Mauricio Viana in the Wanderers goal only for Sebastián Méndez to inexplicably dive in front of his goalkeeper and push the ball away from goal. Everything happened so fast that the officials spotted the penalty, but between them they could not decide who it was that committed the offence, therefore no one was sent-off.
After much deliberation Rodrigo Díaz eventually took the spot-kick and sent Viana the wrong way.
A key aspect of Wanderers’ play under Basay is the use of the wings to supply the two strikers, Pablo Calandria and Salmerón. Colzera on the right and Rodrigo Toloza, supported by Boris Sandoval, provide good delivery from wide areas. Although it can lead to el Decano being slightly predictable it worked against Iquique as a good move was finished by Jorge Ormeño zipping home the shot from 25 yards after a centre from Toloza was only cleared to Wanderers’ captain.
Wanderers are now out of the relegation play-off places with the win but have played a game more than Universidad de Concepción who are a point and a place below them.
Despite the defeat Iquiuqe will be playing Copa Libertadores football next year after accumulating the most points behind Universidad de Chile in the annual table. But with La U having already qualified through winning the Apertura Iquique will be one of the three Chilean representatives.
San Felipe 2-1 Colo Colo
Eleven games unbeaten, including a win in el supercláico, Colo Colo were looked upon as a favourite to win the Clausura and get back into Continental competition. The run was bound to continue against Unión San Felipe who were bottom of the annual table going into the game, wasn’t it?
It certainly looked that way when Gonzalo Fierro rifled in a free-kick from 30 yards plus past the outstretched arms of the diving Diego Sánchez.
Prior to the goal, which Sánchez – on looking back – possibly could have done better with, Fierro whipped a volley past the far post while Miguel Ángel González, formerly of Colo Colo, saw a shot of his own flash past the post.
It was a good start to the game and San Felipe’s play went through González; an excellent footballer who likes like he should be working as a bouncer at some dingy club rather than providing magic on the football field – his nickname is ‘El Mago’.
But if he was chucking out some students who couldn’t hold down a few Blue Wkds then he would not have produced a moment that lived up to his moniker. Picking up the ball inside the Colo Colo half he set off on a meander, taking two defenders out of the game with a drop of the shoulder and burst of acceleration that belies his stature before firing past stand-in goalkeeper Ignacio González.
Los Albos took control of the second half, asserting the dominance that we have become accustomed to in the last two months. Both Fierro, again, and Mathias Vidangossy went close with long range efforts; Fierro’s bouncing just wide while Sánchez acrobatically kept Vidangossy at bay as he cut onto his right.
But they could not get back in front as a long pass from San Felipe’s Jorge Acuña was flicked on by González for Javier Grbec to run onto and clip over Colo Colo’s González; a simple but effective goal.
From then on it was San Felipe who sat back and defended well, disrupting the play of Colo Colo while maintaining a threat on the counter-attack.
It’s a ploy that has worked well for Colo Colo in the second half of matches but they could do very little to combat it; Sebastián Páez going closest to extending San Felipe’s lead with a header from close range.
It has been a difficult time for San Felipe after Marco Antonio Figueroa abandoned ship, leaving Nelson Soto to steer his players to safety and a possible place in the Clausura play-offs if they can win their remaining two games.
Huachipato 1 – 1 Audax Italiano
This was a meeting between two teams with play-off aspirations and both came into the match on the back of three successive wins. A win for Huachipato would have put the Los Acereros in a commanding position with two games remaining and set out to do so with an attacking line-up.
However it was Los Tanos who went ahead with an early goal through centre-back Sebastián Silva, glancing in a corner at the front post. And the lead could have been doubled when top goal scorerer Sebastián Saez sent a shot just past the post after collecting a knock down from his strike partner and fellow Argentine Gabriel Rodríguez.
Audax’s front two were often left secluded high up the pitch as the midfield was forced back to defend against a fluid attacking trio behind striker Braian (yes, two a’s) Rodríguez. The tricky Manuel Villalobos volleyed narrowly wide after latching onto Rodríguez’s lay-off.
The same two combined for the equaliser, this time changing roles; Villalobos spotting the run of Rodríguez between Francisco Gaete and right-back Christian Jelves, clipped a ball into the striker’s path and the Uruguayan lifted the ball brilliantly over Alejandro Sánchez for his seventh of the Clausura and fourth in four games.
If one team were likely to collect the three points it was Huachipato. Cesar Cortés twice went close before half-time; first he saw a shot deflected wide before a superb solo run concluded with a shot into the side netting.
O’Higgins recorded only their second win in ten leagues games to go level with 8th placed Cobreloa on 20 points. Ramón Fernández and Boris Sagredo scored in the first minute of the first and second half respectively in Talca against high-flying Rangers. Andres Oroz scored a late consolation as Rangers slipped to second and their first defeat in eight league game at the same time.
Palestino took advantage of Rangers’ defeat to go top of the table after a tight 2-1 against Cobreloa at La Cisterna in Santiago. Jason Silva and Alejandro Carrasco put Palestino in a commanding first half lead but Juan Barros’ goal half-way through the second 45 minutes set up a tense finale.
Universidad Católica continued their indifferent form away to Cobresal, twice coming from behind to register a point that keeps them in the play-offs. Despite Miguel Ángel Cuellar’s double Cobresal slip into the automatic relegation places. It was the perfect match for Los Mineros to collect three points as Martín Lasarte rested players ahead of UC’s Copa Sudamericana tie against Independiente.
Cobresal are still ahead of Deportes La Serena in the annual table; the Granates are in a perilous position as Unión La Calera walked away from the Estadio La Porta with all three points thanks to Gaston Cellerino’s penalty.
Unión Española won their first Primera División game after a run of six without a win, giving José Luis Sierra’s men a chance of reaching the end of season play-offs. La Furia Roja joined opponents Antofagasta on 18 points thanks to a stoppage time Rafael Olarra goal to make it 2-1.
Monday night was meant to see Universidad de Chile welcome Universidad de Concepción to Santiago, but due to their upcoming Copa Sudamericana match with Sao Paulo the game was postponed until November 14.
The Clausura and Annual table can be viewed here.
The weekend’s goal can be seen here.