In a real nail-biter, Chile managed to put two balls in the Venezuelan net in the second half of Tuesday night's contest at Venezuela. Chile used a 70th minute goal from Hector Tapia, a 92nd minute goal from Ivan Zamorano, and quite a bit of luck on the defensive end to take three points from Venezuela in San Cristobal.
Chile controlled play through most of the first half. In the 6th minute, Javier Margas fired a swerving shot from 40 meters out that the Venezuelan keeper, Guillermo Angelucci, barely managed to get a hand on. Then just four minutes later, right midfielder Francisco Rojas earned Chile a penalty, but Angelucci anticipated Zamorano's shot from the penalty spot and managed to push it wide.
Chile continued to pressure the Venezuelan defense throughout the first half even after missing the penalty. This despite tight marking on both the Chilean forwards. Chile showed some vulnerability on the counterattack, however, when Venezuela managed to push the ball past the Chilean keeper, Nelson Tapia, with Chilean defender Pedro Reyes just barely managing to clear the ball away from the goal line.
The action was more end-to-end for the first few minutes in the second half, followed by a span of about ten minutes in which Venezuela controlled possession and almost scored off a free kick in the 51st minute. Nelson Tapia managed to stop the shot, but could not control it. The loose ball got pushed toward the goal line, but again a Chilean defender, Ricardo Rojas this time, was there to clear it away just before it crossed into the goal.
The Chilean coach, Nelson Acosta, responded to the Venezuelan flurry with a substitution in the midfield. David Pizarro came on in the 66th minute for Jose Luis Sierra, who had been unable to maintain possession in the face of the Venezuelan pressure.
The change paid dividends almost immediately. Just four minutes after entering the game, Pizarro started a play that led to Chile's first goal. He collected the ball at midfield and pushed forward quickly on the dribble. Just as he entered the offensive third of the field, he sent a pass straight up the middle to Fabian Estay, who was standing at the top of the penalty arc. Estay drew three defenders immediately, and pushed the ball with the outside of his right foot to a wide open Hector Tapia, who had entered the game at halftime, and was now standing just inside the penalty box. Tapia calmly took a touch and then blasted the ball into the far upper corner of the goal.
The score could not have come at a better time for Chile. The momentum immediately turned back in Chile's favor, and they began to control play. Once again, however, they proved themselves vulnerable to the counterattack. Giovanni Savaresse got in behind the last Chilean defender in the 85th minute, but knocked his shot just over the goal.
Chile got three good shots off in the minutes surrounding Savaresse's chance. In the 76th minute, Pizarro got off a rocket that rattled the Venezuelan goal post from 30 meters out. The shot would have easily beaten Angelucci, as he was left watching flat-footed. Then, in the closing minutes, left midfielder Rodrigo Tello had two excellent looks at goal, hitting the near-side netting with the first, and bouncing it off the far post with the second.
Ivan Zamorano finally put the game away in the 92nd minute. David Pizarro again started the play, this time with a cross from the left sideline. Claudio Maldonado got a head to it but couldn't put it on goal, managing instead to push the ball back across the face of the goal. Zamorano was in perfect position just five meters out and leapt like he was ten years younger to get his head to the ball and drive it into the net.
Chile now hold seven points through six games in South American qualifying and sit in sixth place on the table. Colombia and Paraguay are two points ahead, and Brazil just one. Paraguay and Brazil, however, both have a game in hand, and will play Wednesday against Bolivia and Argentina, respectively.