Sharp and hungry for glory, Chile no fear no-one

Last night’s famous win over Spain greeted with elation across South America

In Chile the press had no doubt their country's national side had made history with its elimination of Spain thanks to its 2-0 defeat of the world champions in Rio's Maracanã stadium last night

"Chile writes a new 'Maracanãzo '," claimed El Mercurio, which said the game now turned the page on the country's last trip to the ground 25 years ago when its goalkeeper cut himself with a razor in a bid to have a match against Brazil abandoned resulting in a World Cup ban.

“Pure Chile” roared the cover of Las Últimas Noticias in kicking off 25 pages of coverage of the match. Elsewhere on the continent there was generous praise for the Chile and a certain amount of glee at Spain’s fall. “Screwed!” is perhaps the politest way of translating Olé’s front page in Argentina.

In Spain there were reports of sad resignation at the fall of a golden generation. After elimination the crowd at a big screen in Madrid saluted the team that won three international titles in four years with cries of ‘Viva España!’


"And Now What?" asked the headline in Spanish sports daily Marca which declared the country's greatest ever footballing run in which it won a World Cup and two European championships over. "At the culmination of a debacle that started with Van Persie's goal just before half-time in the first game, the question is obvious: 'Now what?'

That question was also on the mind of Chilean commentators. “The team that filled the Maracanã stadium with football yesterday does not appear to have limits,” wrote Pablo Azócar of Las Últimas Noticias.

“Looking at things even Brazil should not frighten us. The Chilean players are sharp and hungry for glory.”

The invasion by a group of between 150 and 200 ticketless Chilean fans of the Maracanã also grabbed headlines, largely thanks to the group running into the stadium’s media centre, at the time full with hundreds of journalists from all over the world.

The incident has deeply embarrassed Fifa and is the second game at the Maracanã when ticketless fans were able to get through the security perimeter around the ground. Once up alongside the stadium the group decided to rush the lightly policed media entrance with one fan faking illness in order to distract the stadium attendants.

In total an estimated 150 to 200 fans got into the ground. Some made it to the crowd joining an estimated 30,000 Chileans inside but 88 fans were arrested after getting trapped in a corridor behind the stadium’s media centre. They have been given 72 hours to leave Brazil or face deportation.

Interviewed by Chilean television afterwards one of the detained said he had planned to buy a ticket but ticket touts were demanding €750.

“Who can afford that?” the unnamed fan asked the TVN reporter. Another interviewed apologised for the incident: “We committed a grave error and we ask the forgiveness of all Brazil.”

The urban transport problems in Brazil were also on show yesterday before the game. Journey times to the stadium stretched up to several hours as the match clashed with the eve of the Corpus Christi holiday with many Rio residents leaving the city for a long weekend, leading to huge traffic jams. Many fans also reported that the one metro line running to the Maracanã was dangerously overloaded with passengers.

Tom Hennigan

Tom Hennigan

Tom Hennigan is a contributor to The Irish Times based in South America