By Robbie Blakeley, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Chile overcame some stubborn Australian resistance to win their opening World Cup game 3-1 at the Arena Pantanal in Cuiabá yesterday evening. After racing out of the blocks, the South Americans were pegged back by a dogged display from Australia, who came desperately close to rescuing a point before an injury-time strike from Jean Beausejour wrapped up the points for Chile.
After the opening quarter of an hour, it looked like Australia could be on a hiding to nothing. Two goals in as many minutes had given Chile the advantage, and the trio of Alexis Sanchez, Eduardo Vargas and Valdivia were playing with such verve they threatened to match Holland’s five goal haul earlier in the day.
Yet despite the shock of falling behind to strikes from Alexis and Valdivia, the Australians did not buckle. Slowly but surely, they found their game rhythm and began to cause their opponents serious problems, particularly during an excellent second half showing.
They pulled one back through an expertly timed header from veteran Tim Cahill, finding space between the central defenders as he does with such ease, and Australia began to seize the initiative. A goal down at the interval, for much of the second half an equalizer looked a distinct possibility.
Cahill had a second headed effort ruled out for offside, with replays showing the linesman had made the correct decision. Shortly afterwards, midfielder Mark Bresciano saw a remarkable left-footed volley crash back off the woodwork with goalkeeper Caludio Bravo beaten.
Chile were on the ropes and Australia could sense it. But for all their toil and pressure, the leveler continued to elude them. Then when Beausejour converted Chile’s third in the dying minutes, the game was up.
* The Rio Times Daily Updates feature is offered to help keep you up-to-date with important news as it happens.