Chile opened their 2014 FIFA World Cup account with a 3-1 Group B victory over a very game Australia side in Cuiaba.
The South American outfit opened the scoring 12 minutes in through Alexis Sanchez and two minutes later Jorge Valdivia doubled it with a stunning strike. Tim Cahill made the most of Chile’s defensive frailties, his well-placed headed bringing the Socceroos back into the game. In time added on Jean Beausejour sealed the victory with a fine low drive.
Chile started in a fashion befitting their style. 12 minutes in, organised chaos ensued in the Socceroos area. After Sanchez had mis-controlled the ball in the area, it fell to Charles Aranguiz. The midfielder charged to the end line before cutting a cross back to Eduardo Vargas. The Valencia forward headed the ball back down into the path of Sanchez and he made no mistake, smashing the ball low past Maty Ryan at the keeper’s near post.
Just two minutes later, the quality the Chile side possesses was in full effect. Marcelo Diaz fed the ball to Sanchez, he waited for Vargas to make a superb decoy run before slipping the ball to an unmarked Jorge Valdivia at the edge of the box. He took one touch before dispatching the ball like a rocket into the top corner to double Chile’s advantage.
Many had talked about Chile being susceptible in the air and ten minutes before the break those accusations were proved true. Matthew Leckie picked the ball up on the right before sliding a delightful ball down the right to Ivan Franjic. He sized up the Chile defenders before picking out Cahill who headed home a bullet past a despairing Claudio Bravo.
Marcos Gonzalez, the lofty Chilean central defender who was controversially left out of the squad will have certainly been in the forefront of Jorge Sampaoli’s mind in the opening minutes of the second period. Leckie’s cross from the right was headed down by Cahill to Mark Bresciano but his volley was stopped stunningly by Bravo. Moments later, Sanchez nearly created Chile’s third but his defence splitting pass to Vargas ended with Alex Wilkinson hooking it off the line.
Juventus midfielder Arturo Vidal so often dictates the play for both club and country, departed the fray on the hour mark, after playing his first game since knee operation five weeks ago. This drained the tempo from Chile’s midfield and allowed the Socceroos to push a little further up the pitch. That almost paid dividends as once again Tim Cahill went close with his head, this time the effort looping over.
In stoppage time, Chile sealed the points in emphatic fashion. After Felipe Gutierrez slid through fellow sub Mauricio Pinilla, Chile should have scored. Pinilla rather scuffed his effort though and Ryan saved. The follow up though, from another sub Beausejour, was stunning. He collected the ball on the edge of the area before driving the ball into the bottom corner with divine telemetry. A fitting end to a delightful game of football.
Chile: Claudio Bravo; Mauricio Isla, Gary Medel, Gonzalo Jara, Eugenio Mena; Arturo Vidal (Felipe Gutiérrez 60), Marcelo Díaz, Charles Aránguiz; Jorge Valdivia (Jean Beausejour 68); Alexis Sanchez, Eduardo Vargas (Mauricio Pinilla 88).
Subs not used: Johnny Herrera (GK), Cristopher Toselli (GK), Miika Albornoz, Jose Rojas, Carlos Carmona, Jose Pedro Fuenzalida, Francisco Silva, Fabián Orellana, Esteban Paredes.
Booked: Aranguiz (84)
Australia: Maty Ryan; Ivan Franjic (Ryan McGowan 49), Matthew Spiranovic, Alex Wilkinson, Jason Davidson; Mile Jedinak, Mark Milligan; Matt Leckie, Mark Bresciano (James Troisi 78), Tommy Oar (Ben Halloran 69); Tim Cahill
Subs not used: Mitch Langerak (GK), Eugene Galekovic (GK), Bailey Wright, Oliver Bozanic, James Holland, Massimo Luongo, Matt McKay, Dario Vidosic, Adam Taggart.
Booked: Cahill (43), Jedinak (58)
Referee: Noumandiez Doue (Ivory Coast)
Attendance: 40, 271
Extratime.com Man of the Match: Eugenio Mena (Chile) - Listed as the left back but played more like a left forward. Great creative force and his constant searching for possession opened holes for left sided central midfielder Marcelo Diaz to move the ball up the pitch.