SOCCER: CHILE’S UNDER 23 TEAM FALLS TO ITALY

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Published On : Fri, May 30th, 2008
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Chile’s under 23 national team lost a heartbreaker Thursday, falling 0-1 to Italy in a waterlogged final of the Tournoi Espoirs (Hopefuls’ Tournament) in Toulon, France.

Under a constant rain, the Chilean team played Italy to a 0-0 draw in the first half, as the wet and muddy conditions caused both sides to struggle offensively.

In the 59th minute, however, Italy broke the draw with a goal by midfielder Daniele Galloppa, who capitalized on a perfect pass by Tiberio Guarente to whiz the ball past Chilean goalkeeper Cristopher Toselli.

The outsized Chilean team refused to give up and, in the 92nd minute, came close to equalizing the score when striker Pedro Morales sent a searing drive that bounced off the right goalpost, missing literally by a centimeter or two.

Thursday’s match, Chile’s first final appearance in an international tournament in 21 years, put an end to a four-game winning streak during which the under 23 team outscored their opponents 11-4. The offensive output reflects well on Marcelo Bielsa, who since taking over duties as the national coach last year has had only limited success. Chile’s adult selection, in particular, has had notable difficulty putting the ball in the net – scoring just one goal in its last four matches.

“With this group, Bielsa’s been able to accomplish what he’s been unable to do with the adult team, thanks in large part to having more time to prepare,” Daniel Perez of Chile’s National Association of Professional Football (ANFP) told the Santiago Times earlier this week. “He’s had them for a couple of weeks and has gotten them to play the way he wants, playing with pressure, rhythm, intensity, going after their opponents, attacking the ball.”

By Santiago Times Staff (editor@santiagotimes.cl)

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The Santiago Times Team