Chile coach lauds two-goal Alexis after Wembley win
LONDON (Reuters) - Chile coach Jorge Sampaoli hailed two-goal Alexis Sanchez after his team's 2-0 friendly victory over England on Friday while counterpart Roy Hodgson was left looking for crumbs of comfort following his first home defeat.
Two superb strikes from Barcelona forward Alexis lent an air of deja-vu to a wintry night because Chile also won 2-0 with a double from Marcelo Salas the last time they played at Wembley in 1998.
Sampaoli, who has guided his side to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil by finishing third in South American qualifying, told reporters: "It's a day of history for Chile to win at the cathedral of football.
"It will make everyone in Chile very happy and it was a memorable performance from Alexis Sanchez. He showed tonight he can be a real star of the World Cup.
"A performance like this at Wembley tonight stands him in good stead to have a really good tournament. He showed his class," added Sampaoli.
Alexis scored with an opportunist diving header after seven minutes before adding a sublime second goal four minutes into stoppage time when he profited from a mistake by England defender Gary Cahill.
Running in on goalkeeper Fraser Forster, the Chile striker waited for his moment before expertly lifting the ball over the helpless debutant.
Sampaoli was asked if the victory, based on inspired midfield invention from Marcelo Diaz and Matias Fernandez, meant his team were among the favorites to win the trophy in Brazil.
"Not at all, we have to keep our feet on the ground," was the coach's reply. "What we have done tonight is compete against a very good team and prove we can keep our shape and play the right tactics and match them.
"We only have three days to prepare before we face the real World Cup favorites Brazil in Canada but this was a very good win."
England coach Hodgson explained beforehand that the result was less important than learning about the players trying to force their way into his squad and he was pleased to be able to blood Forster as well as Southampton pair Adam Lallana and Jay Rodriquez.
"I did say before the match they were a very good team, well they were excellent and they deserved to win," said Hodgson.
"I'm not happy to lose our unbeaten record over the past year and I did not pick a team to lose but we learnt a lot about South American football and how good they are and I learnt a lot about the debutants and some of those without a lot of England caps."
While many of England's experimental team are inexperienced at this level, Frank Lampard was presented with a golden cap before the game in recognition of becoming in September the eighth England player to make 100 international appearances.
"Obviously we never like to lose a game," said Lampard after winning his 103rd cap on Friday.
"On the negative side we let them create chances but we have to remember they are top-quality opposition with a different style of play than what we're used to so I think it was a very, very useful exercise for us."
Hodgson said he was especially pleased with forward Lallana who looked comfortable on his debut and went close to a goal in the first half.
"We felt we had enough chances to get something out of the game but at two vital stages in both halves, where we had a good bit of possession and some chances, we just couldn't get that goal," said Lallana.
(Additional reporting by Joshua Franklin, editing by Tony Jimenez)