Stephen Craigan’s Northern Ireland concluded their summer tour with this narrow defeat to World Cup bound Chile in the Estadio Nelson Oyarzún, Chillan.
As with Wednesday’s meeting with Turkey, Nigel Worthington fielded an inexperienced XI and, like that game in Connecticut, the players produced a performance and result that defied the worst fears of those that predicted a rout.
Chile started brightly, forcing Alan Blayney into action early on when Marco Estrada fired a shot straight at him while the Linfield ‘keeper had to race off his line a short time later to deny Gonzalo Fierro.
But the Chileans had to wait until the 31st minute to grab what proved to be the only goal of the game after Matias Fernandez floated over a corner for Esteban Paredes to rise above Ryan McGivern to squeeze a header between Michael Bryan and the back post.
However, Northern Ireland might have gone in at the break on level terms when Rory Patterson played Johnny Gorman through only for the 17-year-old to fire over the bar with just ‘keeper Miguel Pinto to beat.
Blayney was replaced by Michael McGovern at the break – one of a number of substitutions – and the Ross County man was soon involved when he turned a Mark Gonzalez effort around an upright before keeping out an Estrada shot from distance while Arturo Vidal was also foiled.
Skipper Craigan had another solid outing and is now only two appearances away from reaching the milestone of fifty appearances.
Northern Ireland: Blayney (McGovern 56), Little, McGivern (Coates 56), McAuley, Craigan, C. Evans, Garrett (McArdle 46), Patterson, Mulgrew, Gorman (Magennis 73), Bryan (Braniff 46)