Story of the game: No surprise as Chile leads Australia in Cuiaba, but it’s a lot closer than it appeared to be at the start.
Alexis Sanchez and Jorge Valdivia scored within two minutes of each other in the opening 15, and Chile looked like they were up to the task in Group B with a 2-0 lead over Australia.
The incredibly young Socceroos squad broke early, as a few defensive mistakes marred those opening minutes. The defensive group failed to clear multiple times before the opening goal by Sanchez, and Valdivia was given acres of space for Chile’s second.
But Tim Cahill struck with 10 minutes to go before the break, as Chile got a bit too comfortable in possession, and a counter from Australia pinballed around the box before Cahill headed home.
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12′ – Alexis Sanchez found a way through the Australian defense after young goalkeeper Maty Ryan had been drawn out to the edge of the box. It seemed the Aussies might still pick up their keeper as they crowded the Chileans out, but Sanchez found a crease just as Ryan got back in net.
14′ – The floodgates began to open as Jorge Valdivia got acres of space at the top of the Aussie box, and he struck a brilliant finish into the top corner for a 2-0 Chilean lead.
35′ – Tim Cahill found the back of the net with his head, something he’s done plenty of across his fantastic career. Ivan Franjic did some outstanding work for the goal, with a precise tackle to win the ball on the right edge before sending in a fantastic cross right to the head of Cahill.
Other key moments:
None of any note, as interestingly enough all the big chances found the back of the net.
Chile – Bravo; Mena, Isla, Medel, Jara; Vidal, Valdivia, Aranguiz, Diaz; Sanchez, Vargas.
Goals – Sanchez 12′, Valdivia 14′
Australia – Ryan; Franjic, Spiranovic, Wilkinson, Davidson; Bresciano, Milligan, Jedinak, Oar, Leckie; Cahill.
Goals – Cahill 35′
Questions for the second half:
- Will Chile’s back line hold up? With Australia on much more confidence, the Chilean center-back pairing is actually a pair of defensive midfielders, and the team is compensating with goalkeeper Claudio Bravo occupying any space, but there have been a few gaps.
- Can Australia muster enough of an attack? Chile has held 70% of possession throughout the first half, and while the Aussies have looked dangerous going forward, they will be hard pressed to find another goal, and especially two, if they can’t keep the ball.