INJURY? WHAT INJURY? SANCHEZ CAPS CHILE OUTING WITH BRACE
Alexis Sanchez eased any fear of injury ahead of Arsenal’s game against Manchester United after he put in a match-winning performance for Chile against Uruguay to get their World Cup qualifying campaign back on track.
The Arsenal star scored twice in the second-half to give Chile a crucial three points in World Cup qualifying. Edinson Cavani had given Uruguay the lead after 14 minutes before Eduardo Vargas equalised on the stroke of half-time.
With his right thigh heavily bandaged, Sanchez scored his 35th and 36th goal for Chile in the space of 16 minutes before coming off to a standing ovation.
The Copa America champions found themselves in a battle to qualify for Russia 2018 after falling to four defeats and two draws in their opening 11 games, good enough for fifth in the table.
And when Luis Suarez and Cavani combined to give Uruguay the lead after 14 minutes, the Santiago crowd were left fearing the worst. But so often the hero for his country, Sanchez overcame his injury to inspire them to victory.
His first came after he turned away from a defender following a throw-in and unleashed a dipping pop shot at goalkeeper Egidio Arevalo, who failed to deal with it effectively.
Soon after, he latched on to a looping ball from Marcelo Diaz and fended off two defenders before slotting the ball home. Much to the delight of Arsene Wenger, he came off after 84 minutes.
A poor night for Uruguay was compounded late on when Suarez missed a the chance to get them back in the match from the penalty spot.
Claudio Bravo, who had also been an injury doubt going into the game, saved what can only be described as a tame shot from the Barcelona striker after diving to his left.
Sanchez missed Chile’s World Cup qualifier against Colombia last week after suffering a thigh injury and Arsenal expected him to return to north London for treatment.
But he remained with the side and returned to training just in time to be included in the game against Uruguay.
Wenger had previously expressed his concern that Chile would make the ‘suicidal’ decision to play his star forward whilst still injured, insisting Sanchez would want to play even if he was at risk of causing serious damage to himself.
We have to get access for our medical staff to the MRI scan to see what grade it is, how bad it is and make absolutely sure they don’t make any suicidal decision that could harm his future for two or three months.
Wenger said ‘He always wants to play and that’s where it is a more sensitive case because he’s always ready to play even when injured.’