What a scintillating start to the World Cup for Chile’s Alexis Sanchez, with the FC Barcelona forward having stood out for his country in both of their opening two Group B wins that have seen the South Americans already through to the knockout stage of the tournament.
And now on Monday afternoon in Sao Paulo, Sanchez has a chance to produce one more influential performance against the much-fancied Netherlands. If Chile win and top their section, they avoid the dreaded possibility of having to face favourites Brazil on home soil in the round of 16.
However, to overcome the group leaders, Chile will need the 25-year-old to continue in the same vein of attacking form that he displayed in their 3-1 win against Australia in their opening fixture, and then again on Wednesday when Jorge Sampaoli’s side dumped Spain out of the competition with a 2-0 victory at the Maracana.
In both of those two contests, it was Sanchez who was running the show up front for his country. He scored the crucial early goal with a clever toe-poked finish that helped to settle Chile’s nerves against the Socceroos in Cuiaba.
And while the player may not have got his name on the scoresheet against La Roja last time out, he was still the star man in Rio de Janeiro after being involved in both of his country’s goals.
The Independent's Patrick Barclay wrote:
It was Alexis Sanchez, who made the difference, as so often he does for Chile. By half-time he had taken a hand in two goals. In fact only one of his country’s last 10 has not involved England’s principal tormentor in a Wembley friendly seven months ago; Sanchez has scored one and assisted in eight. He was without question the man of this raucously conducted match.
And as the highly experienced Scottish journalist went on to conclude: “With the electric Sanchez around, they will trouble the best.”