Chile 3 Australia 1: South Americans do just enough to see off Socceroos
A hammering looked on the cards, but Aussies fight back before late clincher
Chile helped pile the pressure on champions Spain after sealing an eventually comfortable 3-1 win over Australia in their World Cup group B opener in Cuiaba on Friday.
Early goals from Alexis Sanchez and Jorge Valdivia put the South Americans in front before Tim Cahill’s brilliant header gave the Socceroos a lifeline, only for Jean Beausejour’s fine injury-time strike to seal the victory.
The result meant Spain have a lot of ground to make up following their 5-1 trouncing by the Netherlands in the earlier group B match.
Chile coach Jorge Sampaoli praised Sanchez’s match-winning contribution, and conceded that with Spain looming his side would need to build on this performance.
"Alexis of course is always a plus for us, I’m glad to know he can perform. There were positives for us here but Spain have a superlative history, and we will definitely have to be able to perform better than we did today when we play them.”
“It’s gut wrenching to be honest,” Australia coach Ange Postecoglou said. “In the end, we gave away a two-goal start and that’s what killed us.”
Although Chile dominated much of the opening stages, they came under pressure at times from the battling Aussies in the second half, with Cahill having another stunning header disallowed for a marginal offside.
Barcelona star Sanchez got Chile off the mark on 12 minutes with a precise strike inside the near post from close range after Australia failed to clear a cross into their box.
Valdivia’s second barely 90 seconds later was a peach as he curled home from outside the area.
Australia weren’t prepared to give up and Cahill soared to head into the top corner 10 minutes from half-time.
The second half was a cagy affair, with Australia fighting bravely. Chile keeper Claudio Bravo had to make a vital double save from Mark Bresciano to keep his team in front.
But Beausejour’s late drilled low effort from distance put Chile level with Holland on three points meaning Spain will almost certainly have to beat the South Americans in Rio on June 18 to avoid the ignominy of an early elimination.
“They got in twice,” Cahill said. “(But) after that you could see their legs were going. We knew we could get something out of this game. We stood up strong. It’s just unfortunate, not a lot went our way tonight, and it showed.
"At the start we showed a bit of fear, but when we stepped up and started getting in their faces, we started rolling them a bit," Cahill said.
"When they showed a bit of aggression, we showed them a bit back. We will learn from this and go into the next game very positively."