Match Analysis: Chile 3-1 Australia

Match Analysis: Chile 3-1 Australia
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Sports Mole takes a closer look at Chile's 3-1 victory over Australia as the South Americans withstood a spirited comeback from the Socceroos to win in Cuiaba.

World Cup dark horses Chile held off a resolute Australia comeback to win their opening Group B game 3-1 tonight at the Arena Pantanal in Cuiaba.

Alexis Sanchez and Jorge Valdivia both scored inside the first 14 minutes for the South Americans, but a Tim Cahill header halved their lead before the break.

Chile were rattled as Australia's resurgence continued into the second half, but the Socceroos could not find an equaliser and Jean Beausejour made the points secure with a stoppage-time third.

Below, Sports Mole analyses whether the result was reflective of the action in Brazil.

Match statistics

Chile:
Shots: 10
On target: 5
Possession: 65%
Corners: 3
Fouls: 9

Australia:
Shots: 13
On target: 4
Possession: 35%
Corners: 1
Fouls: 18

Was the result fair?

The scoreline was certainly not as straightforward as it suggests. Chile were cruising early on, but Cahill's header gave the Aussies the belief which inspired a second-half performance in which they created more chances than the South Americans. Chile may have done just enough to win it, courtesy of their additional quality in the final third, but the goal in stoppage time put an unfair gloss on the result.

Chile's performance

After taking the opening 10 minutes to settle into their passing game, Chile showed why many are tipping them to have a major impact at the tournament with some slick and classy offensive moves between Sanchez's opener and the half-hour mark. Cahill's equaliser showed that their defence, small in stature, is vulnerable to a strong aerial presence, while it also has a tendency to overplay. This caused its own problems, as the back four is not particularly well protected and susceptible to counter-attacks. They will need to improve defensively if they are to progress as far as some are expecting them to. At the other end it is a different story, though. They were savvy in their decision making and clinical in their finishing.

Australia's performance

The fighting spirit of this young Socceroos side cannot be doubted, but what it is lacking is quality. Their golden age of Premier League stars are years into retirement and this is now an inexperienced side, particularly at the back, and this was evident with early moments of hesitation and weakness which cost them goals. Both full-backs were more confident going forward and often provided good delivery from the flanks, which Cahill, still as dangerous with his head as ever, thrived on. Further up the wing, Tommy Oar and Mathew Leckie had the pace which helped them get up the field, but struggled for any sort of consistency with the end product. Ange Postecoglou's side are certainly in this together, but probably not in this for long looking at the calibre of their opponents.

Sports Mole's man of the match

Alexis Sanchez: Players of the Barcelona forward's quality often decide tight games like this, and Sanchez did just that. He showed composure to put Chile ahead, and then produced a lovely turn and change of pace in the build-up to their second. He even had a role in Beausejour's late strike.

Biggest gaffe

While Claudio Bravo's wayward piece of distribution did not lead directly to Cahill's goal, Chile never fully regrouped defensively and were thus short of numbers in the box when the goalscorer isolated himself against Gary Medel. It was one of the instances in which Jorge Sampaoli's side took unnecessary risks, and they were punished.

Referee performance

Four matches into the tournament, it is a relief to be talking positively for the first time about the performances of the officials. Noumandiez Doue and his Ivorian team were generally good, and got the big calls right, including correctly denying Cahill a second header when the Aussie strayed marginally offside.

What next?

Chile: Chile will qualify for the last 16 with victory on Wednesday, but beware of a response from their opponents Spain, who are on the back of a shock 5-1 thrashing at the hands of the Netherlands.

Australia: A daunting task in bringing Netherlands back down to earth in Porto Alegre on Wednesday. Should they lose, the Aussies would effectively be out of the tournament already.

Alexis Sanchez of Chile celebrates after scoring his teams first goal against goalkeeper Mathew Ryan of Australia during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group B match between Chile and Australia at Arena Pantanal on June 13, 2014
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