Thursday, October 12, 2017

12 October 1965 - Chile Gets A Ticket To Europe

On 12 October 1965, Chile beat Ecuador in a playoff to qualify for their first European World Cup.

They were coming off their best showing in the tournament, finishing in third place as hosts in 1962. But they had never played in a World Cup hosted by a European country, withdrawing from Italy '34 and France '38 and failing to qualify for Switzerland '54 and Sweden '58.

To reach England for the 1966 edition, they had to get through a CONMEBOL qualification group whose other members were Ecuador and Colombia. After four games each, Chile and Ecuador had identical records, with each having two wins, a draw, and a loss. Although Chile had a better goal differential and beat Ecuador 3-1 in the last scheduled match of the group, the rules ranked the teams by points only, forcing a decision through a playoff.

The teams met in the neutral location of Lima, Peru, where Leonel Sánchez (pictured)--the hero of Chile's 1966 World Cup performance--opened the scoring in the 16th minute, followed by a goal from Rubén Marcos in the 40th minute to stake Chile to a 2-0 lead at the break. Ecuador finally managed to get on the scoreboard in the 89th minute, but it was nothing more than a consolation goal.

The 2-1 win sent Chile to England, but they were unable to recapture their form from the previous tournament and were eliminated in the group stage.

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