It was more difficult for Chile than anyone – except apparently Australia – anticipated, but La Roja hung on for a 3-1 victory after taking a two-goal lead over a plucky Socceroos side Friday night at the Arena Pantanal in Cuiaba.
The tournament’s dark horse contender in many minds, Chile wasted no time in jumping the Tim Cahill-led Australians with a 12th-minute goal by star striker Alexis Sanchez, followed by a 14th-minute Jorge Valdivia goal. A Cahill header goal in the 35th minute gave Australia life as they evenly battled Chile until the end in the Group B opener for both teams, the killer goal coming from Jean Beausejour in second-half stoppage time.
PICK YOUR POISON: Chile feature an embarrassment of riches in attacking options. Led by one of the world’s finest box-to-box midfielders in Juventus’ Arturo Vidal, it was Barcelona’s Sanchez and Valdivia, who plies his trade in Brazil’s top flight, who shared the spotlight on this night. They certainly made it look like it would be a Chile romp early on.
LEAPING CAHILL: He spearheaded the Australian attack and made it a game with his header, set up on a cross swung in finely from the right flank by Ivan Franjic. Cahill easily out-leaped the Chile defense to do what he does best.
Tim Cahill: half-man, half-kangaroo, half-adorable koala. Yes, he’s three halves. http://t.co/ASqYvEfPs6— Soccer Gods (@soccergods) June 13, 2014
NEAR AUSSIE ELATION: Australia thought they had the equalizer eight minutes after the break when Cahill buried another header in the back of the net, but it was called off for offside. And then in the 56th minute, Mark Bresciano’s blast required a superb diving save by Chile goalkeeper Claudio Bravo.
FRUSTRATED VIDAL: Perhaps Vidal’s quiet night was not surprising considering he was rumored to potentially start this game on the bench due to lingering knee issues. And he didn’t hide his frustration when he was subbed off in the 60th minute for Felipe Gutierrez.
GOALLINE FINALLY! The technology that has been so hyped was finally put to good use in the 62nd minute when Alex Wilkinson was forced to clear a rolling ball from Eduardo Vargas off the line. Only the edge of the ball reached the line before being swept away.
MAN OF THE MATCH: Sanchez showed just how dangerous he can be during Chile’s early brilliance. He was a handful for Australia the entire game, though, after briefly letting off the gas once they went up 2-0.