The country of Chile ended a 48-year winless streak at the FIFA World Cup by beating Honduras in the opening match of Group H 1-0. Jean Beausejour provided the winning score for the Chileans in the 34th minute.
Maricio Isla went streaking down the sideline to send a cross into the box with hopes that a teammate would be waiting there to finish. Beausejour proved to be the hero for Chile, avoiding a challenge from Honduran goalie Noel Valladares to slip the ball in the net.
Chile came close to increasing their lead on numerous occasions. The 62nd minute saw Alexis Sanchez blow an open chance wide after Jorge Valdivia sent him a perfect ball. Defender Waldo Ponce had the perfect chance to ice the game in the 64th minute when he found himself alone in front of the goal with the ball coming his way. Valladares was on the spot for Honduras, making a save that might be considered the best at the tournament so far.
“We’re very happy, and we have to enjoy this triumph,” Sanchez said. “But we have to move ahead and win the game against our next rival [Switzerland].”
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From the opening whistle, Chile was attacking the Honduran goal with almost 50 years of motivation behind them. Midfielder Matias Fernandez opened the shooting two minutes into the match with a screamer that curled just over the crossbar. The Chileans had 33 touches in the penalty area and nine shots on target, while the Hondurans only managed one touch and no shots.
Finishing second to Brazil in qualifying, the Chileans are a dangerous team coming into 2010 World Cup. Their attacking style leaves almost no room for counter attack as shown by Honduras’ poor offensive numbers. They held the ball in their possession only 36 percent of the game, and had fewer corner kicks and shots.
“It’s a fair result,” Honduras defender Sergio Mendoza said. “We didn’t have a clear chance at goal. We knew we could lose this match, but qualifying out of the group is not impossible.”
Lone striker Carlos Pavon was limited to shooting from beyond 18 yards, and didn’t really test Chile keeper Claudio Bravo. Their best chance came from Ramon Nunez when his free kick in stoppage-time of the first half was tipped over the goal.
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Coach Marcelo Bielsa is famous for his attacking style, and has the Chileans playing fluid offense. An Argentina native, he was replaced by Diego Miradonna after the 2002 World Cup. Now, Chilean fans have new hope to accomplish more than their first victory since 1962.
Soccer sportsbooks have set Chile as the slight favorites to beat their next opponent Switzerland at +130. Honduras has been set as the underdog in their match with Spain at +1800. The over/under set for total goals in the Chile game is set at 2 1/2, while the Honduras vs. Spain contest has an over/under of 3.