Alexis Sanchez is set to again show why Arsenal are desperate to keep him when he faces Australia on Sunday at the Confederations Cup with Chile’s all-time top scorer stalling over a contract extension.
Sanchez, 28, surpassed former La Roja star Marcelo Salas with his 38th international goal in Thursday’s 1-1 draw with world champions Germany in Russia.
Ange Postecoglou’s Socceroos though will attempt to silence Sanchez in Moscow where Group B leaders Chile need only a point to reach the semifinals.
Sanchez has a year left on his Gunners contract but is yet to sign a new deal with Arsenal and has been linked with a move to Bayern Munich.
He made his Chile debut a decade ago, scoring his first international goal against Switzerland in a 2007 friendly, and Sanchez marked his 112th appearance with a record-breaking strike.
Sanchez pounced on a mistake in the Germany defence in Kazan and showed no signs of the injury which kept him out of Chile’s line-up for the opening 2-0 win over Cameroon.
He reacted fastest after Arturo Vidal seized on an error by Sanchez’s Arsenal teammate Shkodran Mustafi to score after just six minutes and help Chile edge a step closer to the last four.
“When Arturo gave me the ball I saw that I had a defender to my right, so I went for the left side of the goal,” explained Sanchez.
“The keeper had the far post covered pretty well and my only option was to go for the near post with my left, though there wasn’t a lot of space.
“I toe-poked it and luckily it went in off the post.”
“It hasn’t really sunk in yet,” he added after eclipsing former Lazio and Juventus striker Salas as his country’s record goalscorer.
“I’ll perhaps only realise what it means after a little time goes by or when I’m old even.
“For the time being I just want to keep enjoying myself with the national team.
“I hope, though, that when I’m sitting at home having a glass of wine one day I will see someone surpass my record.”
Chile head coach Juan Antonio Pizzi led the praise for his star striker.
“He’s always motivated and grateful to his teammates, which made it possible to reach the milestone, they helped him get there,” Pizzi told reporters on Saturday.
“Our style of play means we put personal milestones in the background, but any time a player achieves something like this it is always gratifying.”
Sanchez has claimed two further landmarks in Russia, notably drawing level with Manchester City goalkeeper Claudio Bravo as Chile’s most-capped player.
His goal against Germany was also the 400th goal in Confederations Cup history, and Sanchez’s achievements haven’t gone unnoticed by his teammates.
“I’m very happy for him. He deserves it,” said Eduardo Vargas, third on Chile’s all-time list with 34 goals alongside Ivan Zamorano.
“He’s a great player who doesn’t just score goals – he helps the team too.”