Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large
Mark Gonzalez, left, celebrates his first-leg goal.
Mark Gonzalez, left, celebrates his first-leg goal.
Mark Gonzalez, left, celebrates his first-leg goal.

Gonzalez is ready to show how far he has progressed

CSKA Moscow's Chilean winger returns to Seville, where he played for rivals Betis, for the second leg against Sevilla.

CSKA Moscow travel to Sevilla in the Champions League last 16 tonight, underdogs after a 1-1 first leg home draw in the Russian capital. It would have been worse if Mark Gonzalez had not equalised with a wonder goal after Alvaro Negredo's away strike had put the Spanish side in front. Gonzalez has had an interesting career. A Chile international, he will represent them in the World Cup finals in the country of his birth. Born in Durban, South Africa, his father, Raul, was a professional footballer. When he was 10-years-old, Gonzalez's family returned to Chile and, as a promising teenager, he was signed up by Everton, mainstays of the Chilean first division rather than the English Premier League outfit.

There he was spotted by Universidad Catolica, the biggest team in Chile, and from then on his progress was swift, becoming a Catolica regular and making his international debut against Costa Rica in the summer of 2003. A year later Gonzalez joined Albacete, a town famous for making knives and having a team who habitually divide their time between Spain's top two divisions. The jet-heeled winger - unsurprising nicknamed 'Speedy' - enjoyed a good first year in Spain. His acceleration troubled even the most accomplished defences and he scored five goals in 2004/05, including a brilliant equaliser against Barcelona - only for Xavi to give the Catalans a late victory.

Yet despite his excellent crosses, free-kicks and ability to play on either wing or up front, Gonzalez could not stop Albacete from finishing bottom of the Primera Liga. Gonzalez's form brought him to the attention of Paco Herrera, Liverpool's first team coach, who recommended him to Rafa Benitez. Gonzalez agreed to go on loan to Liverpool for the 2005/06 season with a view to a permanent move, but in August 2005 he was denied a British work permit because Chile's Fifa ranking was too low.

A cruciate knee ligament injury further depressed Gonzalez, but Liverpool kept faith in the player and signed him for a reported 1.5 million (Dh8.25m) in October 2005, with Gonzalez loaned back to Albacete to continue his recuperation. He was then loaned to Real Sociedad until the summer of 2006. Gonzalez excelled with the Basque side and few were surprised that San Sebastian's finest wanted to sign him permanently, yet appreciating Liverpool's patience, the thought of going anywhere but Anfield barely crossed his mind.

Still only 21, he joined Liverpool in 2006 yet what should have been his most exciting venture proved to be a disappointment as he made just 25 first-team appearances during a season once again disrupted by injury. He joined Real Betis a year later. Sevilla fans are unlikely to welcome him back to the city he left in 2009 following Betis' relegation to join CSKA Moscow for a not inconsiderable ?6.5m (Dh32.5m) fee.

He was thus doubly pleased with his goal in Moscow. "When I was with Betis, Sevilla were our biggest opponents," he said. "Thank God I played well and scored. It was my first official Champions League goal and an important one at that." Gonzalez, now 25, admits that he would have approached his time at Liverpool differently had he been more experienced, but, like the rest of his career, it was part of a learning curve. Tonight he is eagerly awaiting another chance to show how far he has progressed.

sports@thenational.ae Sevilla v CSKA Moscow, 11.45pm, Aljazeera Sport + 5

Back to the top

More articles

Editor's Picks

 The seventh edition of the Indian Premier League Twenty20 tournament was kicking off at Zayed Cricket Stadium, Abu Dhabi on Wednesday with plenty of excitement in store. Ravindranath K / The National

In pictures: IPL 7 kicks off in Abu Dhabi

The first match in the seventh edition of the Indian Premier League Twenty20 tournament, between Mumbai Indians and Kolkata Knight Riders, was held at Zayed Cricket Stadium amid plenty of colour.

 Al Rayyan's Yakubu Ayegbeni, left, tries to escape the attention of Jazira's Khamis Ismail. Karim Jaafar / AFP Photo

Late strike qualifies Al Jazira for last 16 of Asian Champions League

A dramatic late goal gave Al Jazira a 3-2 victory at Al Rayyan of Qatar in the Asian Champions League (ACL) on Wednesday night and it was just enough to push Walter Zenga’s side into the knockout stages.

 Zayed Cricket Stadium had not witnessed so electrcic an atmosphere before Wednesday evening. Pawan Singh / The National

Packed house gathers in Abu Dhabi for Indian Premier League opener

In less than half a day, Zayed Cricket Stadium witnessed the force that is Indian cricket, with the sound drowning out the controversies that have dogged the Twenty20 tournament, writes Osman Samiuddin.

 Lionel Messi of Barcelona looks down after being defeated during the Copa del Rey Final between Real Madrid and FC Barcelona at Estadio Mestalla on April 16, 2014 in Valencia, Spain. David Ramos/Getty Images

Plenty of life still in Barcelona, says Gerardo Martino

Barcelona coach maintained his side can still return to their former glories after they were beaten 2-1 by a Gareth Bale-inspired Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey final.

 Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton, left, and Nico Rosberg at the official press conference following qualifying for the Australian Formula One Grand Prix at Albert Park on March 15, 2014 in Melbourne, Australia. Mark Thompson/Getty Images

F1: Toto Wolff says Mercedes have all the right ingredients in place

With Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg at the wheel, Mercedes have so far dominated the first three grands prix going into this weekend’s fourth round in China.

 Sunderland manager Gus Poyet, left, reacts as Manchester City's manager Manuel Pellegrini looks on during their English Premier League football match at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester on April 16, 2014. The match ended in a 2-2 draw. AFP PHOTO/Andrew YATES

Poyet says ‘I am sure that Luis Suarez is going to be happy’ after Sunderland draw at Manchester City

Sunderland’s survival chances remain slim because now they face Chelsea away at the weekend but manager Gus Poyet insists they are not trying to benefit Liverpool or his fellow Uruguayan, Luis Suarez.


To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National