KEIR RADNEDGE at WEMBLEY: Chile coach Jorge Sampaoli expects Alexis Sanchez to step up to a starring role at next year’s World Cup finals from the platform of his man of the match performance against England.
Sanchez scored both Chile’s goals in a 2-0 victory which matched their success at Wembley in 1998; on that occasion Marcelo Salas scored both goals. England have not scored against Chile since Nat Lofthouse in 1953.
Sampaoli said: “It’s one of those moments in history when you come to the cathedral of football. This was a result to make all the Chilean people very happy.
“It was a memorable performance from Sanchez which will stand him in good stead for the World Cup.
“We knew we were up against opponents who would press us and be in our faces. In the first half we made a couple of individual errors and in the second half we were more in control of the game. We moved the ball around well and dominated play more without creating as many chance.
“I was impressed at how well we coped with the absence of Vidal and Valdivia and I have to congratulate all the players for the shift they put in and showed we can compete against a team at this level and augurs well for the future and the World Cup.
“We can compete on an equal footing and take control of games against teams who, historically, have been superior to us. There’s a long way to go to the finals but it shows we can go there and give teams a game.
“It’s all about keeping calm and being realistic. You enjoy the moment and we’ve made the country very happy but what made me happy, personally, was the effort we showed out on the pitch and the fact that we didn’t need to change tactics during the game. It’s about us getting prepared to make thing as difficult as possible for the favourites.
“Sanchez showed everything it takes to be real star of the World Cup. Our goalkeeper also gave us a certain amount of calm when England were on top in the early stages.
“I’m happy to have won but we have to keep our feet on the ground because in three days’ time, in Canada, we play Brazil who are one of, if not the favourites, for the World Cup.”
England manager Roy Hodgson, not having gone over the top when England qualified for the World Cup finals, refused to be too downbeat in defeat.
He said: “I said before that Chile were a very good team and they certainly proved that. They player excellently, we learned a lot about South American opposition and how good they are sucking you towards the goalkeeper and then hitting you on the break.
“I won’t write off anyone on the strength of tonight . . . I didn’t expect to lose but we did and all I can do is congratulate Chile and hopefully remedy any areas of our game where we need to get better and use any lessons to help us prepare for Brazil next year.”