I ran into a sentence on a sports site:
The home side dominated possession in the first half and created the better of the chances, with Inter reduced to taking potshots from distance in order to give Marco Sportiello anything to do in the Fiorentina goal.
Better is also a noun, but its definition in ODO says:
The better one; that which is better.
- ‘the Natural History Museum book is by far the better of the two’
This definition doesn't seem to fit in the context. Why is it not created better chances?
What I am uncertain about this usage is that the "the better of the" + noun construction where the noun is a collection of things seems so rare that this is the first time I have seen it. I have tried Google/Google books search of different combinations with different nouns, but the only hits I got are false positives. Examples, either from a dictionary or an online source, would really help.
For instance, if two families are in a dog park with their dogs, could one family say to the other "We have the better of the dogs"? Or this: Two schools are in a competition. Can a student from one school say, "We have the better of the students/athletes"? Or one person saying to another, "We have the better of the jobs." I have tried to search for all these combinations in Google, but only false positives turn up, such as "for the better of the dogs/students."