QUERETARO, Queretaro, Mexico. A second half goal from Nicolas Castillo gave Chile a 1-0 victory over El Tri, who appeared to be somewhat outmatched at times despite starting what looked to be closer to the first team El Tri could use in its competitive (qualifying, finals) matches.
The first half was one of few chances for El Tri, despite points in the half where they were able to pass the ball to string something like an attack.
Hirving Lozano and Jesus Manuel Corona were conduits for Mexico’s early chances, with the latter forcing Chile goalkeeper Brayan Cortes to react to catch a shot only nine minutes in. Later in the half, the former (Lozano) triggered a chance for Marco Fabian to open the scoring, but Fabian, the captain for the evening for El Tri, could not place his low shot on target.
In the first half, Chile were able to make better use of the ball and positioning to generate chances. Their best came seven minutes from the end of the first half, when a triangulated switch of play off a counter by Alexis Sánchez and Mauricio Isla eventually found Junior Fernandes, whose shot was parried over the crossbar by Hugo Gonzalez.
In the second half, Chile elected to invite El Tri to attack them from possession of the ball, but Chile were able to recover defensively and stop the El Tri attacks before they severely threatened Brayan Cortez’s goal. A second half sequence toward the end of the match summed up the night for El Tri. Then, Jürgen Damm was fed vertical ball in the penalty area where it appeared he took several touches too many and too slow to make a decision and react to the Chile defensive reaction to make the most of the chance.
Chile, even during the second half, were more successful in making dangerous chances on Hugo Gonzalez’s goal than El Tri was on Cortes’s goal. The long balls over the top played by several Chile players, including Alexis Sanchez, Arturo Vidal and Paulo Diaz, forced the Necaxa arquero (Gonzalez) to keep El Tri in the match.
But one minute from the end of the 90, a long ball from Alexis Sánchez to Nicolas Castillo set up La Roja‘s breakthrough. After receiving the long over the top pass from Sánchez, Hugo Gonzalez spilled Castillo’s initial shot but could not do anything about the rebound as the former Pumas UNAM striker finished beyond him. On the play, Castillo won a challenge against the sliding Gonzalez to capture the rebound inside the six yard box that forced Gonzalez out of the match due to a shoulder injury.
And with the loss, El Tri has now failed to win five out of the six matches it played since the World Cup. Although El Tri may have a permanent manager soon in Gerardo Martino, if a report by Azteca Deportes is confirmed, whomever ends up as El Tri‘s técnico mag find that performing a generational transition might not get the team the results they had hoped. El Tri‘s next two games, both potentially against Argentina in November with Lionel Messi potentially returning to the Albiceleste selection, could provide more of an indicator as to what kind of strategies and approaches El Tri may have to take in competitive play and their deficits to the “global standards.”