Two very different teams met in Cuiaba to end the second day of football and the first round of matches in Group B. Chile played a brilliant first half, enough for them to beat Australia 3-1, relying mostly on Alexis Sanchez and his skills with a goal and an assist, while Tim Cahill gave Australia a fighting chance and hope for most of the second half.
Chile seem to have only one mode – playing quickly. Either by passing the ball from feet to feet and opening space on the wings, with Sanchez and Valdivia picking up the roles of playmakers in the middle, or panicking and clearing the ball without thinking as they tried to hold off an aggressive Australian side, needing almost 40 minutes to adapt, probably coming a bit too late for them.
In a span of three minutes (12th to 14th) Chile pretty much won the match. Alexis Sanchez scored the opening goal from close range after the Australian defense fell apart, but his more impressive play came a couple of minutes later with a beautiful assist, drawing the entire defense to his side before setting up Jorge Valdivia for a second goal, when it seemed Chile would route the Socceroos.
But crossing and playing on the wings through Tommy Oar and Mathew Leckie worked well for Australia, slowly taking over the middle of the field and dictating the pace. Tim Cahill rose high above Gary Medel to score and put Australia back in the match. Unfortunately for them, they couldn’t capitalize on their long minutes of momentum.
Incredible save by Claudio Bravo in the 55th minute off a great shot by Mark Bresciano. There were impressive saves by defenders on the other side, as Alex Wilkinson cleared a ball off the line and Matthew Spiranovic did a very good job in handling the dangerous crosses from Jean Beausejour, who was fantastic on the left wing from the moment he entered the match in the 68th minute for Jorge Valdivia.
After long minutes of Chile simply trying to clear away danger and doing everything they’re not about, a miss from another sub, Mauricio Pinilla, landed at the feet of Beausejour, launching a tricky shot from long range that went past Matthew Ryan, who probably should have done more than simply letting the ball slip by him, sealing the fate of Australia to head into their two matches with the European teams carrying 0 points from their first match.
The Chilean fans might have been the big winners of the day. Their singing and cheering was the loudest we heard so far in the tournament, even more than the Brazilian fans in Sao Paulo during the opening match. If their voices weren’t enough, they set off a number of firecrackers to celebrate the victory, which is probably nothing compared to what is happening in the streets of Santiago.