By Martin Petty
PORT ELIZABETH (Reuters) - Mark Gonzalez cracked open Switzerland's record-breaking defense to give Chile a 1-0 victory on Monday, moving the South Americans clear at the top of Group H.
Just eight minutes earlier, Switzerland had set a new World Cup finals record, beating Italy's old mark of 550 minutes without conceding a goal. It was the first goal they had let in at the finals since 1994.
Switzerland played most of the match with 10 men after midfielder Valon Behrami was sent off in the 31st minute for striking a Chilean player.
The match lived up to its billing as an ugly midfield stalemate, with the Swiss crowding out center of the pitch and smothering Chile's free-flowing attacks.
"It was a very intense match we were very much under pressure, we knew Chileans are fast, strong and on the attack and we had to use a lot of energy to fight back," Swiss coach Ottmar Hitzfeld said.
"My team did fight very hard, every single player went out of his mind to fight," he said, adding the sending off "wasn't a red card from my standpoint."
Switzerland had a chance to grab a draw in the 90th minute but Eren Derdiyok, unmarked in the middle of the penalty area, shot wide.
"We had a 100 percent goal chance in the 90th minute and 1-1 would have been a just result," Hitzfeld said.
The draw left Chile top on six points followed by Switzerland on three then Spain and Honduras, who are both without a point and play later on Monday in Johannesburg.
Chile attacked the Swiss continuously and had their first chance after ten minutes when Swiss keeper Diego Benaglio was forced into a superb double save from Arturo Vidal then Carlos Carmona from long range.
Alexis Sanchez tested the Swiss defense early on, outpacing Reto Ziegler on the wing and cutting back to the oncoming Humberto Suazo, the top scorer in South American qualifying, who missed the ball completely.
Switzerland were reduced to 10 men after the half hour mark when Behrami was adjudged to have elbowed Vidal, who slumped theatrically to the ground clutching his face.
Chile thought they had broke the deadlock soon after the break when Sanchez's strike from 25 meters deflected off Matias Fernandez and into the net but was ruled out for offside.
Chile almost found their goal on 54 minutes when Sanchez dispossessed Stephane Grichting on the edge of the area but was denied by Benaglio as Chile battled to find the winner and clinched it with 15 minutes left.
(Editing by Nigel Hunt)