England v Chile
15 Nov 2013 - 8:00 PM
England suffered defeat at Wembley for the first time under Roy Hodgson as they lost 2-0 to Chile.
A brace and man of the match performance by Barcelona forward Alexis Sanchez was the difference between the two sides as Chile condemned the Three Lions to a rare home defeat, just their third in 32 games at home since Wembley reopened in 2007.
On a crisp winter’s evening, Hodgson named three international debutants among his starting 11, with Southampton pair Adam Lallana and Jay Rodriguez and Celtic stopper Fraser Forster all getting the nod in an England side that saw eight changes to their last outing against Poland a month ago.
It was also a night that began with captain for the evening Frank Lampard receiving a golden cap to commemorate becoming only the eighth player to reach 100 caps for England.
In his programme notes the England manager described Jorge Sampaoli’s Chile as “formidable opponents” – and as soon as the whistle sounded it became evident his observation was accurate, as the visitors made it clear they were not here to revel in the sentimental opening to procedures.
After a bright opening, in which Phil Jones testing Claudio Bravo in the Chile goal, England were enjoying much of the ball in and looking threatening going forward.
Wayne Rooney found James Milner with an intelligent pass and set the Manchester City man free down the right. Milner fired a low cross into the danger and in his attempts to clear Marcos Gonzalez almost diverted the ball into his own net – and but for an instinctive save by Bravo, England would have found themselves, albeit fortunately, ahead.
The Three Lions’ early dominance stalled as Chile broke into the their half with the first signs of intent on seven minutes.
Mauricio Isla played an exquisite pass in behind the England backline that found Sanchez in space in the box. He set up Charles Aranguiz with a clear sight at goal on the edge of the box - and only a brave block by Jones prevented Forster being called into action for the first time, or so he thought as seconds later he was picking the ball out of his net.
England failed to clear their lines and Eugenio Mena found himself in space on the left. He picked out Sanchez, still in the goalmouth - and this time there was no reprise for Forster as the Barcelona man lost his marker and met the inch-perfect cross with a power header to fire the ball low to Forster’s right.
A frantic spell followed as England looked to hit back immediately.
Milner had a fierce shot well parried by Bravo, and Fraser got a strong hand to a powerful Jean Beausejour effort. On 20 minutes Lampard’s 30-yard effort from a free-kick was expertly tipped over the bar by an outstretched Bravo. This was proving to be anything but an exhibition match as both teams went for the jugular.
There were no better example of that than on 31 minutes when a stunning display of passing and counter-attack football saw the Chileans break from their own corner flag to Beausejour bearing down on Forster’s goal within 20 seconds of one another. Forster did well to make himself big and delay the Wigan man’s shot, before the chance fizzled out. But it was a warning to England.
As the half drew to a close, Hodgson’s men struggled to find their rhythm and maintain possession for any sustained period. However, seconds before the break Jack Wilshere found himself in space in the centre of the field.
He picked out Rooney with a perfectly weighted pass. Rooney took a touch, beat his man and found Lallana in space in the box. Unfortunately though for England, the Southampton man could not quite get the ball out from under his feet right in time, and gave the Chile defender the split second he needed to get the block in and divert the shot wide for a corner, and deny the 23-year-old a dream end to his first 45 minutes of international football.
The Three Loins began the second half brightly. Rooney broke free on the left and forced a corner, which led to a sustained period of attacking possession. But they were finding it hard to breakthrough a resolute Chile defence.
Hodgson decided it was time to inject some fresh legs into the game. Jones was replaced by club team-mate Chris Smalling and Rodriguez came off for Andros Townsend. And it was Townsend’s impact was almost immediate.
The Tottenham man picked up the up the ball wide on the right and cleverly turned Mena before playing the ball into Wilshere, who was subsequently bright down on the edge of the box. Leighton Baines’s seemingly goal-bound free-kick clipped the wall and went out for a corner.
By this time Jermain Defoe, Tom Cleverley, Jordan Henderson and Ross Barkley had been introduced to the action. And for Chile it seemed to be a case of 'what we have we hold' as the visitors sought to slow the tempo, get men behind the ball and prepare to hit their hosts on the counter-attack.
And counter-attack they did. As the fans made their way to the exits and the game drew to a close, Marcelo Diaz picked up a loose ball and picked out Sanchez, who found himself in space and bearing down on Forster’s goal. A calm, clipped finish past the keeper made it 2-0 to Chile, and very much game over.
Hodgson will of course be unhappy to have seen his unbeaten home record disappear into the cold November air, but will take solace in the fact he’s been able to blood three newcomers to the international scene as he continues his audition process for the World Cup in Brazil next summer.