Soccer: Chile Defeat 10-man Switzerland 1-0

Port Elizabeth, June 21 (DPA) Chile defeated 10-man Switzerland 1-0 in the football World Cup Monday to take control of Group H in a game marred by poor officiating by Saudi referee Khalil Al Ghamdi.

The Latin Americans played with a one-man advantage for one hour after Swiss midfielder Valon Behrami was harshly sent off.

But they had to wait until the 75th minute to penetrate their opponent's alpine defence, courtesy of a header from Mark Gonzalez, who was served by Esteban Paredes in a suspect off-side position.

A day after the unfair sending-off of Brazilian star Kaka, Al Ghamdi provided more refereeing controversy by flashing a total of nine yellow cards and one red card in a game largely devoid of animosity.

"At the World Cup we need the best referees available, and not just a referee who blows the whistle on the beach," said Swiss coach Ottmar Hitzfeld, a German.

The result means Chile lead Group H with six points after two wins from as many games, while Switzerland are on three points after defeating Spain in their opening match.

"This is a great moment for the whole of the country," said goalscorer Gonzalez. "What can be better than to score in the World Cup. Now we can look forward to reaching the last 16."

Playing in front of 34,870 fans in Port Elizabeth, Switzerland welcomed back from injury Behrami and captain Alexander Frei, up front, while Chile were once again able to enjoy the services of qualifying-stage hero Humberto Suazo, who missed out on the Latin Americans' opening game against Honduras.

Chile started as the more enterprising side, with the Swiss happy to sit back and sting on the counterattack.

But it was to take only seconds for Al Ghamdi to make his mark on the game and show that he was ready to make a generous use of his cards, booking Suazo for a tough tackle just one minute into the game.

Chile could have scored after nine minutes, but Swiss goalkeeper Diego Benaglio produced excellent saves to bloc two long-distance rifles in quick succession from Arturo Vidal and Carlos Carmona.

In the 22nd it was Carlos Carmona's turn to face the wrath of the ref for a reckless tackle on Behrami. The decision in this case was correct, and it means the Chilean will miss his side's final game against Spain.

The Latin Americans kept pouring forward, but they were repeatedly caught by the Swiss offside trap.

Having waved his yellow card already four times in just 25 minutes, Al Ghamdi then decided that it was time to flash his red card as well.

The 31st-minute decision followed a clash reminiscent of Kaka's incident with Kader Keita of the Ivory Coast Sunday: Behrami elbowed Vidal, seemingly unintentionally, while trying to protect the ball. Vidal, like Keita, made a meal of it by dropping to the ground while holding his face in apparent pain, conning the referee into giving the Swiss his marching orders.

Most experts agreed that the foul should have warranted only a caution.

The sending-off prompted Hitzfeld to replace Frei with Tranquillo Barnetta, a midfielder, leaving the lonely Blaise Nkufo up front.

The move spelled the end of any Swiss chance of getting a goal, and the second half witnessed a Chilean assault on Benaglio's goal.

Chile thought they had gone in front in the 48th, but Alexis Sanchez's goal was disallowed for a glaring offside.

In the 60th, after yet another booking, the referee was in danger of losing control of the match, with scuffles among the frustrated players ready to erupt at any time.

And after a rare attack by the Swiss on the hour, Chile finally found the right pass through the Swiss Alps: Esteban Paredes runs round the back of the opposite defence and serves a delightful ball to Mark Gonzalez, who is positioned on the back post and is able to head the ball into the unguarded goal. Slow-motion images later showed that the goal should have been disallowed for offside.

"We played for 60 minutes with 10 men against an active team like Chile. We gave it everything we got, but it was annoying to concede the goal so late in the game," Hitzfeld said.


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Title: Soccer: Chile Defeat 10-man Switzerland 1-0

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