(Monday, June 21st)
Final Score: Chile 1, Switzerland 0
Port Elizabeth, South Africa (Sports Network) - Mark Gonzalez scored 15 minutes from time as Chile downed 10-man Switzerland, 1-0, on Monday at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium to take over the top spot in Group H.
Switzerland set the record for most minutes played at the World Cup without conceding a goal at 558 minutes during the match, besting Italy's total of 550, despite the fact that midfielder Valon Behrami was sent off in the 31st minute.
The Swiss defended well into the second half with 10 men, but finally cracked as substitute Esteban Paredes had his cross headed home by Gonzalez at the back post.
"We were completely thrown by the red card. Overall, we let ourselves be pressed too far back at the start, although we went out there intending to attack," Swiss defender Steve Von Bergen said. "It was very hard work with ten men. We're angry at the moment, but we're still in with a great chance, provided we beat Honduras."
Chile sits atop the group with six points from two games, while Switzerland has three points and could be joined in second place by either Spain or Honduras, which play later on Monday after both teams suffered defeats in their opening matches.
Swiss goalkeeper Diego Benaglio was called into action after 10 minutes when he parried a shot from Arturo Vidal to the top of the penalty area, where Carlos Carmona was waiting to rip a powerful shot toward the net that Benaglio needed to tip past the post.
Chile was the aggressor in the first 30 minutes and they were able to push even more players forward after Behrami was sent off in the 31st minute for an elbow on Vidal.
There didn't appear to be a lot of contact, but Behrami received an early exit, making him the first Swiss player to ever receive a red card at the World Cup.
Alexis Sanchez was dangerous throughout the match and he threatened before the break with a shot from 10 yards that was hit right at the goalkeeper.
Sanchez had the ball in the net in the 49th minute after his deflected shot found its way past Benaglio, but the goal was ruled out because a Chilean striker was in an offside position in front of the keeper.
The Udinese winger continued to be a handful minutes later and he was denied by Benaglio after stealing the ball and breaking in on goal.
Finally, Chile found a way through the tight Swiss defense when Paredes dashed through the middle into the box and rounded the keeper before lobbing a cross to the back post for Gonzalez to finish off.
"I didn't have a sniff of goal in all our warmup matches, but it's fallen to me to score at the tournament itself, which is unbelievable," Gonzalez said. "It was a very difficult game, even after they went down to ten men, because Switzerland know all about shutting up shop at the back. We needed bags of patience."
Paredes could have put the game away on two occasions, but he was wasteful, allowing Switzerland to have one final chance to equalize in the dying minutes.
A clever backheel from Albert Bunjaku left Eren Derdiyok alone at the penalty spot with just goalkeeper Claudio Bravo to beat. However, the striker pulled his shot wide, handing three vital points to Chile.
06/21 15:36:00 ET