Chile starts strong, earns nervy 3 points with 3-1 win over Australia
It appeared to be over early, but Australia made things difficult on Chile, who ultimately earned all three points after a 3-1 win over the Socceroos in Cuiaba.
The first half was all Chile on possession, owning 70% of the ball, and they took advantage early.
The Chileans scored twice in two minutes, with Alexis Sanchez striking first in the 12th minute when the Socceroos failed to clear, bringing goalkeeper Maty Ryan out of the net and with the ball pinballing around, Ryan barely got back before Sanchez snuck it through.
It was Jorge Valdivia for their second just two minutes later as he got acres of space at the top of the box, and slammed the ball into the top corner.
Chile took their foot off the gas pedal though, and things settled down for Australia. Despite holding very little of possession, they found an opportunity and took it 10 minutes from halftime.
Tim Cahill, one of the world’s best headers, pulled one-back for Australia when Ivan Franjic won the ball with an expert tackle on the right edge before sending a perfect ball into the box. It was more than enough for Cahill to do what he does best, and he nodded home powerfully.
In the second half Australia looked the more dangerous of the two, as Cahill looked to have a second but was rightly ruled offsides despite heading into the net.
The Aussies again threatened in the 57th minute as a ball flew into the box from the left, and while Cahill - up for the header again - seemed to be pushed, Mark Bresciano snuck in far post and ripped a close-range shot that was well saved by Claudio Bravo.
Chile removed Juventus midfielder Arturo Vidal with a half-hour left as he returns from knee surgery, and Chile nearly grabbed a third just a minute later.
Alexis Sanchez slotted through Eduardo Vargas, who couldn’t put a powerful shot on target but still slid the ball towards the line. But Alex Wilkinson came in to clear, and booted the ball off the line just before it trickled over.
Again Australia threatened, again off the head of Cahill but his effort from Jason Davidson went just over the bar with 20 minutes to go.
Both sides looked to counter each other with substitutes, as both Jean Beausejour for Chile and Ryan McGowan for Australia made a positive for their respective countries.
As things wound down, tired legs marked both sides, and Chile put things away in stoppage time for an assured victory. Beausejour was the man to finish long distance on the rebound after Pinilla’s effort was saved.
It was a valiant effort by the underdogs, but ultimately Australia end up with nothing to show for it, and Spain and the Netherlands still remaining.
The three points for Chile keep them along with the Netherlands, who stormed to a shocking 5-1 victory over the defending champions Spain. However, the Chileans did not come close to the goal differential of the Dutch, something that could be a factor going forward if the other two teams in Group B beat Australia by a wider margin.
[ MORE: Soccerly covers the World Cup ]
Chile – Bravo; Mena, Isla, Medel, Jara; Vidal (Gutierrez 60'), Valdivia (Beausejour 68'), Aranguiz, Diaz; Sanchez, Vargas (Pinilla 88').
Goals – Sanchez 12′, Valdivia 14′, Beausejour 90+2'
Australia – Ryan; Franjic (McGowan 49'), Spiranovic, Wilkinson, Davidson; Bresciano (Troisi 78'), Milligan, Jedinak, Oar (Halloran 69'), Leckie; Cahill.
Goals – Cahill 35′