Sunday, July 15, 2007

Chile Advances to Semifinal of U20 World Cup

Goalkeeper Toselli sets world record in 4-0 win over Nigeria

On July 15 Chile´s U20 squad continued showing its impressive form at the World Cup being held in Canada. The rival this time was Nigeria (current African sub-champions in this category) that also became the first team to put up serious resistance to the South Americans. From the kick off at the Montreal Olympic Stadium, the Nigerians surprised the crowd of 35,000 as it pinned Chile in its own half, but the poor aim of its players prevented the Africans from scoring on three clear chances during the first fifteen minutes. Chile's players could not find a formula to break open the Nigerian defense and it was only in the 18th minute that they had their first goalscoring opportunity. Nicholas Medina was left alone in the area but goalkeeper Ezenwa deflected the striker's shot over the crossbar. Meanwhile Chile´s star player Alexis Sanchez had been neutralized by the Nigerians with a string of fouls and hard tackles. In the 43rd minute Nigeria could also have scored but Ezequiel Bala´s header hit the crossbar of the goal defended by Christopher Toselli.
In the second half Chilean coach Jose Sulantay made some risky replacements as he put on Carlos Carmona and Jaime Grondona for Alexis Sanchez , but the move worked since from then on until the end of the match Chile began taking control of the match. For the first time in the tournament the Chilean squad had been unable to score during normal time and was forced to continue with a further thirty minutes of extra play.
In the 95th minute Chile was awarded a free kick from forty meters that as usual was taken by Mauricio Isla, one of the best players of the afternoon. Isla's high ball caused a mix-up among the Nigerian defenders that ended up with Jaime Grondona tapping the ball into the net from close range with his head. With the crucial goal having been scored, Nigeria went into disarray as it advanced desperately towards the Chilean half in search of the equalizer. This left far too many spaces in Nigeria's defense that was easily capitalized by Chile with fast counterattacks. In the 112th minute Isla and Mathias Vidangossy ran off alone towards the Nigerian goal and as the latter player entered the penalty area he was fouled by Sodiq that was immediately sent off by the referee Howard Webb. Isla wrapped up the match for Chile through a penalty but along with Vidangossy would add yet another two goals in the 119th and 121st minute respectively. Apart from the brilliant achievement of having qualified to the semifinal that will be played on July 19, the Chilean squad has also set a world record in U20 championships. Goalkeeper Chris Toselli has not conceded a single goal after 480 minutes of play, breaking the previous record set by Uruguayan goalkeeper Fernando Alvarez in the 1979 U20 World Cup played in Japan, that played for 442 minutes without conceding a goal.
Now Chilean fans expect Toselli to continue with his record and help the team continue towards the final, a feat that does not seem impossible for these players that have put on a brilliant performance.

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