Alexis Sanchez is “not at his best level” but Chile are cherishing the Manchester United man’s performances at the Copa America in Brazil.
Reinaldo Rueda suggested being with Chile has galvanised Alexis Sanchez after the much-maligned forward converted the winning penalty against Colombia in the Copa America quarter-finals.
Sanchez, whose Manchester United future remains in doubt, dispatched the decisive spot-kick after a tight 90 minutes in Sao Paulo finished goalless.
The 30-year-old was earlier involved in two Chile goals overturned by VAR as he continued a strong tournament showing that has included strikes against Japan and Ecuador during the group stage.
Those goals equalled his season tally for United and Sanchez will hope good form in Brazil marks the beginning of a career revival, his end to the last campaign having been blighted by fitness problems.
“The relationships, the knowledge, the little groups that exist in this team, with Arturo [Vidal], with Mauricio [Isla], and with all of them that have been together a long time… there are good memories [for Sanchez],” Rueda said.
“The national team means everything to him. I believe he brings great integrity.
“And about his football, we know he’s not at his best level, because he’s been practically injured for six months, but he is helping us a lot at the moment.”
EN VIVO | PENALES #LaRoja
— Selección Chilena (@LaRoja) June 29, 2019
Head coach Rueda commended his players for keeping their cool after technology twice denied them the breakthrough during normal time.
“It generates certain feelings of frustration after a goal is celebrated and then we have to accept the contrary decision,” he said.
“But it is something we have to adapt to. Many decisions have gone against us, hopefully some will be in our favour as well.
“The best part was that the group did not lose concentration, balance and mental control over these situations.”
Vidal, scorer of one of the two disallowed goals, added: “We deserved to win it in the 90 minutes, but it was not possible.
“We dominated almost the whole match, we played a great match against a great team.”