LONDON (Reuters) - Chile reinforced the belief they will pose a serious threat at next year’s World Cup finals when they scored an early goal and largely dominated an experimental England team for a 2-0 win at Wembley in a friendly on Friday.
Alexis Sanchez scored with a superbly timed header after seven minutes and added the second in stoppage time to stretch Chile’s unbeaten run to 10 matches and inflict fellow finalists England’s first defeat for a year and a day after 10 unbeaten games.
Chile also beat England 2-0 at Wembley on their last visit in 1998.
England coach Roy Hodgson gave debuts to Celtic goalkeeper Fraser Forster and Southampton team mates Adam Lallana and Jay Rodriguez, and with captain Steven Gerrard and other regulars missing England played well in patches but lacked the harmony of the South Americans.
England were the first to settle and Chile goalkeeper Claudio Bravo was forced into making two important saves in the opening 15 minutes from Phil Jones and Frank Lampard.
The visitors gradually took control, though, and were the deserved winners, with the victory wrapped up by Sanchez when he lobbed Forster a minute from the end.
Chile went ahead when Sanchez, in superb form for Barcelona this season, nipped in front of Leighton Baines and twisted himself to meet a cross from Eugenio Mena to head low and wide of Forster, who had no chance of stopping the effort.
The goal came after Bravo had shown his athleticism at the other end as early as the third minute, when he palmed a Jones header over the bar, but he was also swift to react to a powerfully struck Lampard free kick that took a deflection off the wall after Chile went ahead.
But with Marcelo Diaz, Eduardo Vargas and the impressive Sanchez forcing England on to the back foot, Chile, who finished third in the South American qualifying group, took a grip on the match.
Although Forster could do little to stop the goal, he did well to prevent Jean Beausejour doubling the visitors’ lead when he smothered the Wigan player’s shot in the 31st minute.
England were not without merit, and they came close to an equalizer shortly before the break when Rodriguez shot narrowly wide after a well-worked counter-attack that split Chile open.
The second half lacked the excitement of the end-to-end first period, with both Hodgson and Chile boss Jorge Sampaoli making a series of substitutes as the game petered out as a contest.
England continue their World Cup preparations with a home match against Germany on Tuesday, while Chile play World Cup hosts Brazil.
Reporting by Mike Collett, editing by Stephen Wood