Three quick thoughts: Chile-Honduras (World Cup Group H)
Three quick thoughts after Chile's 1-0 victory over Honduras in Group H on Wednesday:
1. Fuerza, Chile! Hours after a massive earthquake rocked his country in February, Chilean striker Humberto Suazo grabbed a black marker and scribbled the words "Fuerza, Chile" (Be Strong, Chile) on the white undershirt underneath his yellow Real Zaragoza uniform. Suazo (who sat out against Honduras with an injured hamstring) scored both goals that day in a 2-0 win, and ignited a T-shirt phenomenon that quickly spread throughout Europe and South America. Our advice is to get on the Chilean bandwagon now. In what's been an offensively challenged World Cup, Chile looked hungry and dangerous throughout a convincing win over Honduras. La Roja dictated the terms from the kickoff and finally got its reward in the 34th minute with some clever passing. Winger Alexis Sanchez found streaking fullback Mauricio Isla, who got behind the Honduran defenders down the right wing and sent a slick pass to Jean Beausejour, who finished from the near post. The Chileans owned the possession the entire game, including 70 percent in the first half. This game could have easily finished 3-0 or 4-0. A mouth-watering Chile-Spain match comes on June 25.
2. So this is what happens when two attacking teams play each other. Sid Lowe of The Guardian and SI.com called Chile the best team so far at the World Cup. He might be right. It has pace, great movement and loads of flair. (The Chilean offense scored 32 goals during qualification, second only to Brazil). Based on his work rate against Honduras, Sanchez, an attacking winger for Udinese in Italy's Serie A, who is known as El Niņo Maravilla (the Wonder Boy), should scare the bejesus out of the rest of Group H. He offered inventive balls to his teammates and made a glorious 50-yard run in the 61st minute, before making a mess of a shot that would have put Chile up 2-0. There were some questions heading in about Honduras keeper Noel Valladares, but he made the save of the tournament in the second half on a diving header in the box by Chilean defender Waldo Ponce. It was Chile's first win in 48 years, the longest wait between victories for any country at the World Cup. Chile's last World Cup victory came in 1962 when it finished third as the host nation.
3. Honduras overmatched. Honduras landed in this tournament thanks to U.S. national team defender Jonathan Bornstein; his last-minute goal in a 2-2 tie against Costa Rica in qualifying secured the country its first World Cup place in 27 years. The self-described "minnows" of Group H were significantly outclassed by Chile. Honduras had one striker pushed up -- Carlos Pavon -- and the squad's very few chances were created on counterattack. (Pavon left in the 59th minute after posing no threat for Chile). Honduras was a 5-1 underdog entering the game and saw its winless streak stretch to six matches. The team hasn't won since beating the United States 3-1 in a friendly in January. The June 25 match against Switzerland will be the lone chance here to end the streak.