Alexis Sanchez played 84 minutes for Chile last night and as well as scoring two incredible goals in a 3-1 win, escaped the match seemingly unscathed. He played a lot longer than many Arsenal fans wanted or even expected but put in a phenomenal appearance for his country.
Arsene Wenger will probably be delighted to see the end of this international break. If it wasn’t Hector Bellerin getting injured or Laurent Koscielny playing 90 minutes longer than expected it was Alexis Sanchez and the Chilean Football Federation.
Sanchez limped out of training last week and missed his country’s 0-0 draw with Colombia. Some feared he would miss a few months but the forward defied expectations by not only returning to the training pitch but also to the starting lineup within just a few short days.
Alexis started the match slowly in the deeper role he plays for his country and gradually grew into the match. Uruguay took the lead in the 17th minute through Edinson Cavani but were pegged by an Eduardo Vargas header just before half-time.
Chile needed to win to keep alive their chances of qualification and the responsibility fell on the shoulders of Alexis Sanchez to make the difference. His first goal on the hour mark was incredible and completely out of the blue. He received the ball from a throw-in, dummied and swivelled before unleashing a powerful half-volley from the corner of the box. Everyone – including Uruguayan goalkeeper Fernando Muslera – was shocked and La Roja took the lead.
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Sanchez made it 3-1 just 15 minutes later with a hugely impressive finish after latching onto a long pass. Arsenal fans must’ve had their hearts in their mouths when Alexis Sanchez was sprinting clear after playing 75 minutes but he remained injury-free and gave his side a two-goal cushion. Sanchez was brought off ten minutes later and Chilean goalkeeper Claudio Bravo stopped a late Luis Suarez penalty to make sure of the win.
An injury-free, full of confidence Alexis Sanchez could return to Arsenal in the coming days. The Chilean was at his absolute best at times during the match but will undoubtedly need some time to recuperate. The lunchtime kick-off against Manchester United this Saturday may come too soon for Sanchez to start but given his display against Uruguay, he’s not a bad option from the bench.