Despite having a man advantage for an hour of the Group H contest in Nelson Mandela Bay, Chile struggled to break down a record-setting Switzerland defence but ultimately won 1-0 through a winner from Mark Gonzalez.
The South Africa-born player headed in Esteban Paredes's cross in the 75th minute to break the Swiss back-line for the first time in over 550 minutes of FIFA World Cup™ football, a record they had claimed just minutes before. Chile now sit atop the table with six points from two wins, while Switzerland remain on three points after failing to build on their upset of Spain in their opener.
The attack-minded Chileans were always going to be more adventurous, and they had the large majority of the chances after Valon Behrami became the first Swiss player to be sent off in a FIFA World Cup match in the 31st minute. The South Americans had showed their attacking intent from the off, testing the Swiss goalkeeper twice in the tenth minute with swerving long-range efforts. Arturo Vidal cut in from the left and Diego Benaglio could only punch the ball as far as Carlos Carmona at the edge of the area who also tried his luck. Shortly after, the opposite No1, Claudio Bravo, had to be smart coming off his line to clear in front of Blaise Nkufo after a light back-pass.
The match then turned decisively as West Ham United player Behrami swung his arm into the face of Vidal while trying to hold off the Chilean along the sideline. Stunned by the straight red card, the Swiss retreated into their own third and, as against Spain, showed themselves well capable at bending without breaking. However, the quick South Americans showed themselves equally good at exploiting spaces. However, they were let down by their final ball or, in the case of Alexis Sanchez in the 40th minute, mediocre finishing after he had done well to chest the ball down in the box.
Chile made two changes at half-time to make their man advantage count, and they seemed to have opened the scoring within minutes of the restart, but Sanchez's long shot deflected off an offside player before beating the goalkeeper and was disallowed. Sanchez had another chance in the 55th minute after closing down defender Stephane Grichting well and running on to the deflected ball. But Benaglio again came out on top, getting down well to block the point-blank shot.
As the Swiss eclipsed Italy's record of scoreless minutes in the finals, it began to look more and more like Chile would come up frustrated on the night. But Paredes finally created the chance they needed with a diagonal run behind a for-once flat Swiss defence. His cross to the back post was met by the head of Gonzalez, who nodded down to beat defender Stephan Lichtsteiner on the line with Benaglio drawn out of his goal.
As Switzerland began to push forward for the first time in the match, Paredes should have put the contest out of reach twice in the final minutes, first blazing over and then wide with left-footed efforts. He was almost made to rue his wastefulness when Eren Derdiyok missed an exposed Chilean goal after a clever back-heel from Albert Bunjaku left him in space eight yards out.
Chile will try to confirm their place in the next round against Spain on Friday in Pretoria, while Switzerland face Honduras at the same time in Bloemfontein.