In the last couple of weeks I haven’t been as consistent as I would have liked in keeping everyone up-to-date with all things Chilean football due to work, festivities and illness. Earlier in the week I briefly wrote about the Clausura play-off final and also an in-depth article on Universidad de Chile and Jorge Sampaoli’s success.
And instead of spamming everyone’s timeline on Twitter I thought it would be better to write about all the latest news that may be of interest which has happened recently. Unsurprisingly news has been dominated by the three Santiago ‘giants’ but there is news of returns to Chile for high profile players as well a new TV deal, coaching changes and the start of the Apertura campaign.
Just when it looked like Primera B side Magallanes would shock one of Chilean football’s biggest side’s in the second leg of the Copa Chile final, Daúd Gazale fired home to rescue Universidad Católica, taking the match to a penalty shoot-out which was one by Católica 4-2.
Magallanes had won the first leg at UC’s Estadio San Carlos through a late Paulo Cárdenas goal and held their own against their more illustrious opponents over 180 minutes.
However in the return leg – played at Unión Española’s Estadio Santa Laura because Magallanes home ground is too small – Cató returned the favour, Fernando Meneses floating ball to meet the run of Gazale who expertly brought the ball down with his chest and fired into the far corner two minutes from time.
Magallanes really should have taken the lead early in the first half when Patricio Salas failed to convert a low cross from Felipe Reynero, sliding in at the back post with the goal at his mercy; a chance his namesake would have finished in his sleep.
As good as they are at playing high-intensity, exciting football, Chile are just as adept at shooting themselves in the foot; well the players certainly are. Once again Claudio ‘Bichi’ Borghi has had to contend with off-field problems only days before a crucial World Cup qualifying double-header against Uruguay and Paraguay.
The squad that will be looking to add to the three points gained from the first pair of fixtures is much changed from the one that was announced at the end of October after five players were excluded from selection.
Jorge Valdivia, Arturo Vidal, Jean Beausejour, Carlos Carmona and Gonzalo Jara were sent away from La Roja squad having arrived back 45 minutes late from the christening of one of Valdivia’s sons. There were rumours that some had alcohol on their breath but ‘Bichi’ only announced that the players were ‘not in a proper state’.
Despite a valiant effort in Argentina Universidad Católica could not replicate the performance of Universidad de Chile the previous night and overturn the 2-0 deficit they suffered to Vélez Sásfield in Santiago two weeks previously to progress to the quarter-finals of the Copa Sudamericana.
A positive first half in Buenos Aires saw UC go into the break with a one goal advantage and the promise of more goals. However the second half turned into a struggle as Vélez took over proceedings and duly finished the tie with little more than 15 minutes left on the clock.
It was a tentative opening to the game at the Estadio JoséAmalfitani but for the matter of inches Católica could have taken a lead through Sunday’s hero Milovan Mirosevic. Unlike the first leg UC’s large spells of patient play, Francisco Silva knocked a long ball over the top for the perfectly timed run of Francisco Pizarro who got away from Sársfield’s high line, but his low cross was just out of the reach of the sliding Mirosevic.
The shape of the Clausura continues to alter – with the exception of the top spot which Universidad de Chile have all but sewn up – after another tumultuous and enthralling weekend in the Chilean Primera Division.
There were 27 goals scored in the nine games which kicked off on Thursday (01:00 GMT) due to La U’s impending involvement in the Copa Sudamericana. They travel to Brazil to face Ronaldinho’s Flamengo in good spirits having secured their place in the play-offs defeating Union La Calera late on to end their run of draws and increase their lead at the top to 10 points. La Calera, like Unión Española who were beaten 2-1 by Huachipato, fell out the play-offs to be replaced by Universidad Católica (more about them soon) and Ñublense while Deportes La Serena, Audax Italiano and Cobreloa all strengthened their positions in the play-offs with wins. Palestino moved off the bottom of the Clausura table with a 3-1 win victory in Iquique and Santiago Morning hit bottom of the general table with a 1-1 draw at home to Unión San Felipe.