By TIM FONTENAULT
Group B certainly looks like it knows how to provide the drama at this World Cup.
Chile came out firing, putting early distance between itself and Australia, but the Socceroos would not go away quietly, fighting their way back in. However, the South American side’s attack proved to be too much for Australia in the end, as Chile cruised to a 3-1 win in their opening match Friday.
Barcelona man Alexis Sanchez opened the scoring after only 12 minutes, beating Australia goalkeeper Cristopher Toselli as he tried to get back into position. Toselli had been pulled by Charles Aránguiz, who dribbled the ball towards the corner of the goal near the end line. With Toselli on the ground, Aránguiz played the ball to the middle, where Eduardo Vargas headed it down for Sanchez to fire into the net.
It only took two minutes for Chile to double their lead. Sanchez played the ball to Jorge Valdivia at the top of the box, and the 30 year old beat Toselli with a wonderful strike from 18 yards away. With a 2-0 lead, Chile looked determined to make the Netherlands feel a little less confident in their goal difference, following that massive 5-1 win over Spain.
Australia settled in, however, making things difficult for Chile in their attacking third and even getting one back before the break thanks to a header from Tim Cahill. With the goal, Cahill joined Robin Van Persie as the only players so far to score in the 2006, 2010 and 2014 World Cups. He is the first Australian to score in three.
Both sides got their chances throughout the second half, the best coming in about 10 minutes in from Eduardo Vargas, who beat Toselli, but the ball, moving ever so slowly, was cleared off the line by Alex Wilkinson, who got to the line before the entire ball could cross.
Australia was stuffed on a couple occasions by Chilean goalkeeper Claudio Bravo while Tim Cahill put a equalizing opportunity over the crossbar with a header.
Cahill did put a second header in the net, but the referee correctly ruled him offsides.
Jean Beauséjour put the nail in Australia’s coffin in the 92nd minute, firing a low, driven shot past Toselli on a rebound from outside the box, securing the three points for Chile, who sit in second place in Group B with the victory.