By TYLER GRAY
Many thought that Chile was the out-and-out favorite in their opening match of the World Cup, but Australia wasn’t going to concede without a fight.
The Socceroos fought until the very end but were unable to net the equalizer as Chile got the 3-1 victory in Cuiaba, Brazil.
Chile scored two goals practically back-to-back in the 12th and 14th minutes off Alexis Sanchez and Jorge Valdivia blasts then Jean Beausejour iced the game in stoppage time with a long-range strike. Forward Tim Cahill’s headed goal accounted for the lone tally for the Australians in the 35th minute.
Alexis Sanchez opened the account for Chile after a scramble in the penalty box in front of Australia’s goal. Australia ‘keeper, Matthew Ryan, came out on Charles Aranguiz, forcing him to the endline but Aranguiz was able to put the ball back towards the top of the six-yard box where it was deflected to the feet of Sanchez. The Barcelona man fired his shot into the back of the net making it 1-0.
Jorge Valdivia doubled the lead just two short minutes later when he received the ball at the top of the box. Validivia seemed to have all day to pick his spot and place his shot over Australia ‘keeper Ryan. The ball and kissed the bottom of the crossbar on its way into the back of the net and Chile was on fire.
Australia started to play more positively towards the end of the first half and they were rewarded in the 35th minute with a goal from none other than Cahill.
Australian midfielder, Ivan Franjic, played a perfect cross right to the top of the six-yard box. Cahill rose up in the box between two defenders and headed in the cross with authority. The ball looped just over the outstretched arms of the Chilean ‘keeper and into the goal, slicing the lead in half.
15 minutes into the second half, FIFA’s brand new goal line technology finally had a chance to shine when Australia’s Alex Wilkinson made a critical clearance right in front of the goal.
The move started when Chilean forward Sanchez split two defenders and played the ball to the back post where Eduardo Vargas was lurking. Vargas played a clever shot that beat the Australian keeper and was rolling toward the goal mouth before Wilkinson was able to clear it out. Technology would later show that it was indeed cleared off the line in plenty of time.
The Australian’s pressed hard for the equalizer in the final moments of the match and it looked as though they might be able to make something happen until Beausejour took matters into his own hands.
The Chilean substitute was able to latch onto a blocked shot and blast a low, powerful shot from just outside the box that sneaked inside the far post putting the game out of reach.
The score line won’t reflect it, but Australia gave the Chilean’s all they could handle. The South American side could have probably netted a couple of more but were far too hesitant in front of goal, often passing out of clear chances to make way for contested ones.
Chile is now even with The Netherlands on points with three apiece while Australia drops to third, just ahead of defending World Cup champions Spain, thanks to goal differential.