Jorge Sampaoli and Jose Pekerman’s men shared the spoils in Santiago on Thursday in round three of CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying
Chile’s 100 per cent record in World Cup qualifying came to an end after playing out a 1-1 with Colombia in Santiago.
Arturo Vidal opened the scoring in first-half stoppage time as he headed past David Ospina from close range before James Rodriguez netted a scruffy equaliser with 22 minutes remaining on Thursday.
The hosts had won their last seven matches before the draw as Colombia collected their fourth point from three games in a mixed qualifying campaign in South America.
Chile dominated the early proceedings with superior ball possession in the opposition half.
Jorge Sampaoli’s side, who lifted their first Copa America title in July, looked composed at Estadio Nacional Julio Martinez Pradanos as they prevented Colombia to counter attacks.
Alexis Sanchez was the first to test the reflexes of Ospina with a floated effort from outside the area within the opening minute.
Luis Muriel’s pace began to cause Chile’s high defensive line problems, and it was through the Sampdoria forward that Colombia created their best opening of the half.
Muriel charged to the byline before drawing the ball back to star midfielder Rodriguez to fire a fizzing effort across goal which Claudio Bravo was forced to tip over the crossbar.
Chile, orchestrated by Al-Wahda playmaker Jorge Valdivia, continued to press with their intricate passing around the 18-yard box but Jeison Murillo and Christian Zapata kept Sanchez and Eduardo Vargas at an arm’s length with some tight marking.
Chile wasted multiple opportunities with poor set-piece delivery, causing Sampaoli to rise from his seat and become animated on the sidelines.
With half an hour played in Santiago, Sanchez found space from the edge of the box but the Arsenal forward could only drag his weak effort wide of the goal.
However, on the stroke of half-time, Chile took the lead.
Matias Fernandez’s curled free-kick into the area was met by Vidal, who rose highest from six-yards out to crash his header into the bottom corner past the helpless Ospina.
The hosts returned to the field following the interval as the dominant side once more with Sanchez and Fernandez both testing Ospina from free-kicks as Colombia consistently gave away fouls in dangerous areas.
Colombia, spearheaded by Atletico Madrid striker Jackson Martinez, appeared more concerned with denying the Chile frontline than creating openings and spurned the limited chances they did create.
Rodriguez twice opted to shoot from ambitious distances and Muriel refused to pass to his unmarked strike partner Martinez on the break despite heavy pressure.
However, with 68 minutes played Colombia finally did take their chance as Rodriguez found the back of the net.
Muriel darted past Mauricio Isla down the left of the area and stuck and powerful close-range effort which rebounded off Bravo and towards the penalty spot, and Rodriguez did well to strike a low effort into the far corner of the net.
The equalising goal opened the contest, with Colombia sensing they could snatch all three points from the clash and Chile eager to press for a second.
A smart training ground routine from a corner eventually saw Sanchez – who had been kept quiet for the majority of the tie – strike over and Carlos Bacca, a late substitute for Muriel, saw his penalty appeal turned down.
Edwin Cardona struck a low drive late on but neither side were able to force a decisive winner and had to settle for a share of the points.
So Chile keep hold of their UFWC Crown and have successfully got through 4 title defences, next up it’s the visit of Uruguay for Gameday 4 of the South American World Cup Qualifiers
Here are the highlights: