The 30-year-old scored one goal—his first in five months—and made another in the emphatic victory at the Copa America, helping the defending champions get their campaign off to the perfect start.
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After a torrid season with the Red Devils, it would have been a relief for Sanchez to get back among the goals. Afterwards he reflected on what has been a challenging time for him, per The Independent.
"For six weeks I felt worse than I ever have before," he told reporters after the game. "I struggled in the first half as I felt stifled but in the second half I was more relaxed and played with more freedom and excitement."
Here are the highlights from an impressive win for Chile:
After goals from Erick Pulgar and Eduardo Vargas put La Roja two goals up, Sanchez scored with a fine diving header in the 82nd minute to make the game safe. The former Arsenal and Barcelona man then set up Vargas a minute later to add some gloss to the scoreline.
Per Simon Peach of the Press Association, if Chile were to go far in the competition, it would potentially disrupt Sanchez's preparations for the new Premier League season:
Sanchez was last on the scoresheet for the Red Devils in January, when the team won 3-1 against his former club, Arsenal, in the FA Cup.
Highs have been rare for the South American since making the move from the Emirates Stadium to Old Trafford in January 2018. Last season, he netted just one goal in the Premier League, as he failed to cement a place in the team under either Jose Mourinho or Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
However, as these figures illustrate from Statman Dave, there were signs of the old Sanchez in the win over Japan:
Football blogger Jonas Giaever noted Chile's players were keen for fans to get behind their team-mate:
Playing on the international stage may yet provide Sanchez with a sense of freedom, as he has already accomplished so much with his country.
He was key in the team winning back-to-back Copa America titles in 2015 and 2016, offering a vibrant and industrious presence at the point of the attack. While he's cut a dejected figure at Old Trafford at times this term, the signs are that his enthusiasm remains intact when it comes to representing Chile.
Whether he can recapture that form for United is doubtful, but with the forward reported to be earning £500,000 per week at Old Trafford, some big performances for his club are long overdue.