The cold night of Tuesday, April 29, 1997, promised a reunion. A little more than six months it took the Chilean fans to see the national team play a match again on Creole courts, for the qualifying rounds towards France 98 ′.
The last had been the laborious victory against Uruguay, thanks to the tight header of Marcelo Salas. Later, three visiting games followed; the unexpected draw in Buenos Ares (with a goal from Fernando Cornejo), the 2-1 defeat in Lima (Zamorano discount), and the tie at a goal at the height of La Paz, with the precise free kick by Pedro «Heidi» Gonzalez.
Back in Santiago, the team started the second round of qualifying in eighth place in the table; that is to say, still very far from France, in a competition that only delivered four direct spots. The victory was imperative and it was decided that the team would play home, for the first time, at the Monumental Stadium.
“The high cost of Nacional was mentioned as a reason,” explains a note published in Don Balon, on November 20, 1997, on the occasion of the Red’s qualification for the French World Cup. There was also speculation with the supposed pressure that the public could exert in the white enclosure ».
The bitter draw in Barinas was not forgotten, in the first round, which determined the departure of Basque Xavier Azkargorta from the Chilean bench. “There was concern about certain adverse results with Venezuelans in different international competitions -reported in a chronicle of Don Balon-. The ghost of Barinas was still fresh.
But his successor, Nelson Acosta, did not want surprises and with his usual pragmatism, he sent a balanced team to the field, but with weight on offense. That night, in Pedreros, the line-up was: Nelson Tapia; Cristián Mora, Juan Carlos González, Pedro Reyes and Miguel Ponce; in center, Clarence Acuña and Luis Musrri to contain, José Luis Sierra and Marcelo Vega for the start; Claudio Núñez and Iván Zamorano, on offense.
First half: Zamorano lowered the tension
For “Bam Bam,” it was a special match. Not only because the whole weight of the Chilean attack fell on him, in the absence of Marcelo Salas -who had fractured the fifth metatarsal of his right foot in February-, but he also played on the Colo Colo court, a team of which he was a recognized fan. , by the influence of his father.
«My father had that dream that I would play for Colo Colo, that I would enter the Monumental Stadium with that shirt. Since we were little we sat there on the stones of the stadium with my sister, my mother and my father, and now I was going to have the chance to enter, but with my national team shirt, “the scorer told El Desconcierto.
But it would not be easy. At the start, the Chilean team looked nervous, and even suffered with a couple of falls from the speedy Dionny Guerra, who knew Creole soccer from his days at Deportes Concepción. “It became very difficult for us because Venezuela somehow came to defend itself and seek a tie. We had the difficulty that we could not find the goal, “recalled Zamorano.
“In the first minutes they surprised us because they went out to gamble everything, looking for us higher,” said Nelson Acosta, in statements recorded by Don Balon. Fortunately the goal came out and we were able to handle the game.
It happened at minute 19 ′. After a start from the back, Sierra plays the ball to Marcelo Vega, located a little from the center circle. The “guatón” Vega, the discharge towards the right wing, where Claudio Núñez was. The then forward of the UANL Tigres, advanced, faced the mark of the leading marker Elvis Martínez and looked for Bam Bam.
“The first one appeared with a perfect center from Claudio Núñez with which I had the opportunity to head butt,” recalled the scorer of the aforementioned medium.
In addition to opening the scoring, the goal instilled confidence in the team and the rival failed to get up. “The arch opened a little, little by little we loosen up a little more,” Ivan recalls. Guatón Vega, Coto Sierra, Claudio Núñez himself appeared. We started to have the ball much more, to generate more football and chances. Fortunately, I was realizing them ».
Zamorano scored two more goals in the first half. The second came at 26 ‘, after a corner kick served by Vega; Pedro Reyes pivots, the ball goes to the position of Zamorano, who is suspended in the air, and manages to put it at the far post of Rafael Dudamel.
Five minutes later, Vega takes off the mark, overflows through the right wing and takes a cross, which Zamorano emplaced from the left. “Ivaaaan, Ivaaan Zamorano!” Pedro Carcuro raved in the TVN broadcast.
Second half: the Bam Bam show
As soon as the second half started, Zamorano scored again. El Coto opened the ball to the left wing, where Núñez was. The forward faced and piled up rivals, while Zamorano hit the center of the area. Núñez – who returned to the national team after a long time without being considered – is served to Ivan. José Alexander Echeñique fails to intercept, and Bam Bam scores unopposed. The Venezuelans claimed off side. Nothing mattered.
Zamorano was able to further extend his scoring streak. Minutes later he deflected a header, and in another play, Núñez tried to play the personal, before giving him the ball. Chile attacked with more confidence and the Venezuelan team barely resisted.
It was then that Echeñique knocked down the Inter forward inside the area, and the Mexican referee Arturo Brizio sanctioned a penalty. But the launch went above the arc. “Even the greats are wrong,” Sergio Livingstone sentenced in the television broadcast.
With the score in favor, Chile was able to manage the match. The party continued at 66 ‘, when Pedro Reyes converted with an impeccable header, after receiving the center from Cristián Mora. An award to the Antofagasta, with a great game, who confirmed his great moment in the Colo Colo of Gustavo Benítez.
Minutes later, Zamorano, between the centrals, connected a Rodrigo Goldberg cross, but it went straight into Dudamel’s hands. But the same forward closed the party at 85 ′, after hurrying a bad start from the Venezuelan goalkeeper, who years later would have a noisy step as a DT from the University of Chile.
Bam Bam scored five of the six goals, breaking the two-Brazilian mark; Careca, who scored four to the «vinotinto», in qualifying for Italy 90 ′ -in the group he shared with Chile-, and Zico, who converted four to Bolivia, in the 8-0 victory, heading to the Argentina World Cup 78 ′.
“It was a special match for the stadium and because it was the first and last time in history that I scored five goals. It could have been six because I wasted a penalty, but it was an anecdote, because with five goals I was happy haha I had scored four goals in a game in Switzerland, but had never scored five, “the scorer explained to El Desconcierto.
The triumph allowed to prop up the team’s morale and functioning, facing the tough second round, in which Chile, affirmed in the scoring power of Zamorano and Salas, added important home victories and rescued visiting points -as in Quito-. In addition, he delivered a good goal difference that was key in the Chilean classification to the World Cup. That monumental night of Bam Bam was the ultimate clean and jerk for a team hungry for glory.