Sanchez, Chile hold off Australia after strong first half

JorgeValvidiaChile1-Australia 2014 (Getty)

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.

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16 Responses to Sanchez, Chile hold off Australia after strong first half

  1. Diego's Maradoughnuts says:

    After watching this match, I can come away with three lessons (which I will surely regret eventually):

    1) Conventional wisdom suggests that all 32 teams are guaranteed 270 minutes of meaningful, competitive soccer during the World Cup. Mathematically, the number is actually closer to 180, depending on group results and placement. Australia did their best to reduce this number to 15 minutes. It can happen that fast, lest we forget (though they did plenty to suggest they aren’t going to be going away without a fight, and could very easily changed the plot in the second half)

    2) Spain supporters can have something to feel good(ish) about before drinkng themselves to sleep. . Chile were very disappointing after the opening spell, and I can’t put it all down to tactics. Spain still have top players and champions — there will be a response. If Chile feel that they were as dominant as the scoreline suggests, I would think they have a nasty surprise waiting for them in the remaining games.

    3) Two elite teams do not make a “Group of Death” … andI only saw one today. We’ll see how the rest of the groups go, but I’d take NED/ESP right now, even after this morning’s public castration.

    • quozzel says:

      I agree. Chile is just Mexico on Aderall. They’ve got 1-2 players who are legit, elite Champions-league quality, the rest of them are just technicians – some of them surprisingly physically dumpy technicans – with nifty feet, but not much size, speed, or athleticism. After their feeding frenzy faded off after the first 15 minutes and the razzle-dazzle had subsided – meaning, they had hit the edge of their fitness, which wasn’t impressive – Australia (who had shockingly little overall technical quality) proceeded to take the game to them. In a whole lot of ways, Australia reminded me of the 1998 or 2002 renditions of the US national team – unskillful, but willing, and very fit, hard-working, and determined. And if they’d had just a touch more quality, it would have been enough. Chile’s work-rate and fitness are…not good, and they really haven’t figured out what this “defense” thingee is yet. Spain will likely maul them. Netherlands will bend them over at midfield and violate them. La Roja had problems with Tim Cahill and a bunch of A-League players I’d never heard of before…I can only imagine the rampant erection Arjen Robben and Robin Van Persie were experiencing, watching that defense.

      Dark horse…no. I agree with you…the Red One is going home, unless they squeeze out a miracle against Spain. Which I suppose could happen…Spain’s got a 5-1 goal differential to overcome – if Chile simply manages a draw against Spain (and stranger things have happened) the Chileans then simply have to NOT lose by more than 3 to Netherlands to advance. That hole Spain dug themselves today is pretty durn deep.

      What’s fascinating to me is the lesson that was conveyed today – quality matters, but fitness, tactics, and determination matter almost as much. Cameroon looked very much like a talented but poorly-coached and poorly-motivated team that didn’t particularly want to be on the pitch, and played like it…and duly gave up 3 goals to the most average Mexico side in recent memory (though only one counted). Spain showed their age and lack of athleticism in the second half of the Netherlands game, and a Netherlands team that had been re-tooled, Jurgen Klinsmann-style, with a bunch of youngsters augmenting the more established old guard, thoroughly took it to a less energetic Spanish side that was still playing its same old game with the same old players and expecting the same old result.

      Brazil 2014 is different than recent World Cups in a whole lot of ways. The weather is different, the culture is different, the country is different, the time zone is different. I think youth is going to be served, preparation is going to be served, and solidarity is going to be served. Nor is this just some great big, somewhat more International version of the Copa America…I think even the South American teams are going to be facing their own problems in this tournament. Teams like Chile are going to have to play with a bulls-eye on their back and the weight of fan expectations on them…and as Chile clearly showed today, and Brazil definitely showed yesterday, that ain’t necessarily going to be all that easy….

      Fascinating day, and I think today showed just how different this 2014 Cup is going to wind up being.

      • Neruda says:

        I had to skip most of this but essentially I agree with your comparison of Australia to an older US side with the grit and determination. Cahill is not to tall but he’s an amazing header so it’s never surprising to see him get looks. Australia is as experienced a group as chile is in terms of personnel not football culture.

        The problem with la roja was Vidal. His knee made him innaffective so he had to be pulled he’s a big loss but chile has quality throughout albeit not household names. They need to stay more compact and if they more of they’re chances this could have also been five one.

        I hope Spain comes out reeling after being humiliated by holland but it will be interesting to see. These are my second and third favorite nations so I want both to do well.

      • Ali Dia says:

        Quozzel. Very strong post (Neruda as well, although it sounds like he may need some of that adderall– we all will at this rate).

        Anyway, I loved reading this. Keep it coming.

      • GW says:

        quozzel,

        Excellent post.

  2. Scott e Dio93 says:

    FIRST MLS GOAL!

  3. usaalltheway says:

    All MLS fans should be proud of Tim Cahill. He made the league look great.

    Chile isn’t as good as I would have hoped for. Spain may still get out of the group.

    Very fun match.

    • Neruda says:

      Sounds like we all underestimated Australia. They’re tougher than expected. Only the Dutch looked truly dominant and cohesive in they’re first match thus far.

      • usaalltheway says:

        I totally agreed.

        Australia very well could have gotten a point out of that last match. They just have no teeth in the final third. The number of times I saw them get in the box, actually into it, and do NOTHING with their chances was too numerous. They simply can’t finish.

        Chile on the other hand isn’t as strong as I was expecting. I bet Spain beats them.

  4. Perry Singer says:

    You’re having an impact on others as well with your great works. I’m impressed by all the information.
    Yeah, this is super cool, i can’t think of anything else! Great play Tim

  5. Neruda says:

    I still believe Chile can and will advance but now I think it wil happen at the expense of the reigning champs. Chile can do better but so can Spain if Casillas gets his head on straight.

    Chile likes to play open so theyre always going to open themselves up to quick counter shots but the bigger problem is the loss of Vidal. Can they replace them and still get points against Spain. I hope so. It could come down to goal differential between the Rojas and so far chile has a big advantage there.

  6. DaveS says:

    A good write up, but it should be pointed out that Australia’s goalkeeper was Mat Ryan who plays for Club Brugge in Belgium – Toselli is Chile’s second goalkeeper.

    Another point that is important, this is probably the youngest and least experienced Socceroo’s side in living memory – Brec, Cahil, Wilkshire, and Jedinak are the most experienced with around 50 caps each and the majority of the rest have around a dozen from friendlies and such. The national side has had much turmoil with the head coach over the past half decade or so, our current coach probably would have had most of these players in major tournaments before now. I don’t mean to present these as excuses, but as a means of showing what is possible for teams from the non-traditional countries, even when it seems hopeless. If you had told me last night that today I would be disappointed not to get a win instead of being distraught with a flogging I would have grabbed it with both hands, and I’m ridiculously proud of our boys :)

    • RNG says:

      Lots of reason for pride. Great never say die attitude. Flashes of athleticism and skill. Fun to watch and cheer for. Really did feel like rooting for the US back in the day.

    • GW says:

      DaveS,

      After Chile’s two goals I turned off the TV not wishing to watch another slaughter.

      Fortunately I came back in time to watch an unbelievably entertaining effort.

      The Socceroos prove. once again, what powerful team spirit, good coaching, good tactics, fitness and old fashioned heart, guts and hard work can do.

      A team to be very proud of.

  7. Dan says:

    Chile deserved the win, of course, but Australia outplayed them from the 30 minute mark to about minute 80 in my opinion. Strong work by the Socceroos. Nothing to be ashamed of.