Nelspruit: Chile missed
chances galore before recording their first World Cup soccer
win in nearly half a century as they scraped past Honduras 1-0
in their Group-H opener here on Wednesday.
Striker Kean Beausejour produced the match-winner midway
through the opening session to help his team break a
long-standing World Cup jinx at the packed Mbombela stadium.
Beausejour`s strike in the 34th minute brought about a
highly emotional moment for the Chileans who had last won a
World Cup match against Yugoslavia way back in 1962.
Since then, they had made 13 appearances in the finals
but victory had eluded them.
But despite earning full points, the Chileans would be
far from happy with their performance as their forwards
squandered a number of opportunities despite penetrating the
Honduras defence time and again.
The Chileans romped ahead in the 34th minute of the
contest with striker Beausejour slotting home from close range
following a combined and well-orchestrated move.
Midfielder Jorge Valdivia initiated the goal-bound move
as he broke through the defence with deft footwork from the
flanks before crossing to Beausejour who only had to tap the
ball in with rival goalkeeper Noel Valladares out of position.
Undaunted by the setback, Honduras players did manage to
make a few serious forays into the Chilean goalmouth but
lacked the finishing touch to find the equaliser.
Both the teams launched their campaign on a cautious note
but the Chileans, ranked 18th in the current FIFA rankings,
started to find their bearing with a series of attacks after
the early nerves.
Although the Chileans more or less dominated the opening
session by enjoying territorial advantage, Honduras did manage
to give them some anxious moments.
Chile could have taken the lead in the 20th minute when
Valdivia broke through the defence with ease but his volley
was brilliantly fended off by custodian Valladares.
Three minutes, the men in red jerseys saw another effort
going in vain when Alexis Sanchez beat his man and darted down
the right flank and passed the ball to Waldo Ponce who in
turned found Valdivia inside the box. But the playmaker`s shot
was deflected over the bar.
It was then Honduras` turn to fritter away a chance as
the 36-year-old veteran striker Carlos Pavon saw his shot go
wide off the target.