Chile's Top 10 World Cup Moments

Eugene FogartyContributor IMay 19, 2010

Chile is making their eighth appearance at a World Cup finals this summer in South Africa.

The World Cup history of La Roja goes back as far as the first tournament in Uruguay in 1930.

From their performance in 1930 to hosting the Mundial in 1962 to qualifying for this year’s tournament, Chile’s history is littered with controversies, memorable matches, and passionate performances.

10) CHILE 5-2 USA, 1950

The World Cup in Brazil was by no means Chile’s finest performance at a tournament but they did manage to inflict their record-winning margin on the USA.

Following early defeats by Spain and England in 1950, La Roja beat the Americans 5-2 in Recife.

Goals from Robledo, Prieto, and a hat trick by Cremaschi gave the Chilean’s their biggest ever victory at a FIFA World Cup.    


Chile qualified for the tournament in Germany under bizarre circumstances.

Having landed themselves in a playoff with the Soviet Union for a place in the tournament, the Chileans had to travel halfway around the world to Moscow, to play the first leg, which they drew.

The USSR, however, refused to travel to Santiago for the return leg because the Estadio Nacional had been used as a concentration camp by the military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet.

The 11 men of Chile proceeded to kickoff with no opposition, scored into an empty net, and were awarded the game.


Chile were one of only 13 teams to compete in the first World Cup in Uruguay in 1930.

Grouped with Mexico, France, and eventual runners-up Argentina, the Chilean’s did well to win their first two games before losing to their neighbours.

They enjoyed their first game most of all, beating the Mexicans 3-0.


After 16 years in the wilderness, Chile returned to the World Cup in 1998 after being disqualified from the 1994 edition.

The first game of Group B was played in Bordeaux between Chile and the Italians, their old rivals from 1962.

Two goals from Marcelo Salas gave the South Americans a 2-1 advantage with only minutes remaining before Roberto Baggio scored a late equaliser from the penalty spot.  

6) THIRD PLACE, 1962

Chile finest performance at a Mundial was at home in 1962.

Having ridden a wave of momentum to the semifinals, they were ultimately knocked out by Brazil 4-2 in Santiago.

Nonetheless, La Roja cemented the bronze medal with a 1-0 victory of Yugoslavia. Such feats have not been seen since.

5) CHILE 2-1 USSR, 1962

The finest performance of their home World Cup came in the quarterfinal against Lev Yashin’s Soviets.

Against the odds, the home team fought their way to a 2-1 win.

The opposition’s star goalkeeper, Yashin, was in poor form that day, which helped the locals to a shock victory.


Chile may not have won a game in the 1998 World Cup in France, having drawn all three of their group fixtures, but they still left their mark on the tournament due to their raucous national anthem, Cancion Nacional.

Prior to the second round game with Brazil in Paris, Chile legend Ivan Zamorano was close to tears as the team belted out their war cry before going on to lose 4-1 to a Ronaldo-inspired Selecao.    


In 1989, during a must -win qualifier with Brazil in Rio’s Maracana stadium, Chile’s goalkeeper, Roberto Rojas, went down in his penalty area believing he had been hit by a firework while they trailed 1-0.

The Chileans refused to continue with the game, secretly hoping the game would be replayed or Brazil would be disqualified.

Video replays showed Rojas was never hit by the firework, as he had claimed, and La Roja were subsequently eliminated from Italia ’90 and USA ’94.

The incident in Rio has become known as ‘Maracanazo’ in Chile ever since.    


Chile’s most famous World Cup match was played at home in 1962.

The group stage game with Italy has since been known as ‘the Battle of Santiago’ around the world for the amount of rough play, fouling, and fighting that occurred throughout the match.

Only two players were sent off, but players needed police protection to leave the field in one piece. Chile won the game 2-0 and the match referee Ken Aston would later invent yellow and red cards.


Such a game may never have occurred had the tournament been removed from the country.

1960 saw one of the strongest earthquakes ever recorded, measuring 9.5 on the Richter scale.

The quake destroyed the bottom half of the country and the nation’s ability to host the 1962 World Cup came under questioning. The tournament went ahead, although only in the northern half of the country, in four cities.

The national team rode a wave of emotion and patriotism to third place that may not have been possible otherwise.

This year’s team will be hoping for a repeat performance following February’s disaster in Concepcion and surrounding cities.      


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