Chile is a two-time reigning Copa America champion and some believe La Roja can contend for the World Cup title. Without Arturo Vidal's two goals Tuesday, though, Chile might not even be at Russia 2018.
Vidal's brace, including an 85th-minute winner, lifted Chile to a vital 2-1 win over Peru in World Cup qualifying. Chile entered the night five points behind fifth place in CONMEBOL's qualifying table. With the top four teams booking automatic World Cup berths and the fifth sent to an inter-continental playoff against Oceania's winner, Chile couldn't afford to fall any further behind as the teams passed the halfway point in the qualifying process.
Fortunately for Chile, Vidal had a trademark game in the spotlight.
The Bayern Munich star started Chile off on the right foot with a header in the 10th minute to ease some early nerves.
Peru restored those nerves in the 76th minute, equalizing through Edison Flores.
Vidal came through in the clutch, though, with his low, long-range effort tucking inside the post with five minutes remaining and setting off celebrations–and relief–around Estadio Nacional in Santiago.
Chile also received a boost from Paraguay, which defeated a Lionel Messi-less Argentina 1-0 to tighten the gap between fifth and seventh place.
Argentina sits in fifth with 16 points. Paraguay is sixth with 15 and Chile is seventh with 14.
The road doesn't get any easier for Chile, though. It faces Colombia and Uruguay, who are both in the top four, in next month's qualifiers.