Chile hold off battling Australia in 3-1 win
Issued on: Modified:
Chile got the victory they needed if they are to have any chance of progressing from a daunting Group B when they held off a strong Australian fightback to emerge 3-1 winners in another open and entertaining World Cup clash on Friday.
Alexis Sanchez put Chile ahead from close range after 12 minutes and two minutes later Jorge Valdivia made it 2-0 with a well-struck shot as the South Americans looked in control.
Australia fought back strongly, though, and Tim Cahill replied with a header after 35 minutes and thought he had equalised with another early in the second half only to have it ruled offside by an excellent linesman's decision.
However, Jean Beausejour put the game away for Chile in injury time to help the South Americans level on three points in Group B with the Netherlands, which thrashed Spain 5-1 earlier Friday.
Boasting its best ever squad for a World Cup, Chile has been strongly tipped by many - including Pele – to go far in Brazil despite being thrown in the same group as two of Europe’s top teams.
And the Spanish, ripped apart by the Dutch in Salvador, will not be relishing playing Chile in their next game on Wednesday, with the holders’ title defence on the line.
Spain’s players will know all about Sanchez as he has spent the last three years at Barcelona, and the sprightly forward carried over his most prolific season at Camp Nou here against a flimsy Australia defence.
Sanchez was on hand to guide in a close-range finish inside the near post after Australia captain Mile Jedinak failed to head clear Charles Aranguiz’s cross. The celebrations had hardly died down when Sanchez span his marker and laid the ball across for Valdivia to finish high into the net from 20 yards (meters).
“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.”
It was already looking like a damage limitation exercise for the beleaguered Socceroos, the lowest-ranked nation in Brazil. The raucous Chilean fans were regaling their team’s crisp passing with chants “Ole” and a no-look backheel from Sanchez highlighted his confidence.
But Chile’s momentum was punctured when Cahill, renowned for his tremendous jumping ability, leapt above diminutive marker Gary Medel to thump home a header from a right-wing cross.
“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.”
The New York Red Bulls star then squandered chances either side of halftime before another fine header was ruled out for offside.
Chile still looked dangerous going forward – Eduardo Vargas had a shot cleared off the line – but Australia remained in the game right until the end, when Beausejour drilled in a low shot from 30 yards in the second minute of injury time. Fireworks exploded after being thrown onto the pitch.
Arturo Vidal started and played 59 minutes for Chile on his return from injury.
(FRANCE 24 with AP and REUTERS)