Potential tournament dark-horse Chile took on perennial fixture Australia in the pairs first match of their World Cup campaign. Despite the expectations Chile came with, and the result going their way 3-1 in the end, they certainly failed to show the world why so many think so highly of them.
The Socceroos truly put up a valiant display, despite everyone in the world writing them off long before the tournament, and so many expecting them to get completely played off the park in each match. That was not to be the case today however, and as expected from some, they did they country proud. Here is our review.
Chile: Bravo; Maurico Isla, Gary Medel, Gonzalo Jara, Eugenio Mena; Marcelo Diaz, Jorge Valdivia, Charles Aranguiz; Arturo Vidal; Alexis Sanchez, Eduardo Vargas
Australia: Mathew Ryan; Jason Davidson, Matthew Spiranovic, Alex Wilkinson, Ivan Franjic; Mark Milligan, Mile Jedinak; Tommy Oar, Mark Bresciano, Mathew Leckie; Tim Cahill
The opening exchanges of the match were quite tempered, though Australia did manage a foray into the Chilean defensive third of the pitch but the cross was not up to the grade. Chile finally managed the opener through star winger Alexis Sanchez when he finished from close range after the ball became lose in the box. Just a minute later, the goal scorer turned provider as Sanchez squared to Jorge Valdivia and he curled it into the roof of the far post. Chile went up 2-0 inside the first fifteen minutes, and the rout was on. Australia truly brought nothing to the table in the early stages, and not many expected them to.
The second stanza of the first half as far less eventful, though Sanchez continued to threaten from the right flank. Mathew Leckie’s pace came to the fore once or twice in the match, but the over all lack of ability on the ball for Australia was rather telling.
Just when you thought Australia would sink without a trace, the ever reliable Tim Cahill rose to Leckie’s cross and headed home past Bravo. Chile’s lack of height and prowess in the air was ruthlessly exploited, and it was Cahill’s 4th goal in 7 World Cup appearances. They gained confidence immediately, and Cahill was put through on goal soon after but his effort could not beat Bravo from a tight angle. The remainder of the half died out in rather un-entertaining fashion, but at 2-1 going into the dressing room, Australia were still in it.
An unfortunately early second half substitution saw Ivan Franjic taken off due to injury, and he was replaced by Ryan McGowan. The Aussies thought they had equalized through Cahill, but he as flagged for being just offsides despite finishing off a header well again. Mark Bresciano did well to get a stinning effort on frame in the 56th minute, but Claudio Bravo did equally as well to turn it around the post, and nothing resulted from the corner.
The 60th minute saw Arturo Vidal removed for the Eredivisie player of the year Felipe Gutierrez. It was good to see Vidal feature, but he clearly as not himself and he certainly lacked the presence we are used to seeing from him. Australia still had far more confidence in their game than in the first half, and it was boosted further when Alex Wilkinson cleared Eduardo Vargas’ effort off the line after he slotted past Ryan – Australia, still, where in this. Instantly at the other end, Bresciano saw his effort just wide of Bravo and they continued to keep knocking on the door.
A change from each manager came at the 68minute mark, as Jean Beausejour came on for Valdivia, while Ben Halloran was introduced for Australia at the expense of Tommy Oar – fresh legs and a bit of added pace for both sides for late on moments was wise on the part of both. Cahill flashed is header over the bar soon after the changes, with Davidson doing well with his bit of service.
Bresciano’s impressive second half came to an end on 77minutes when James Troisi was introduced. Despite his departure from the match, Troisi is a similar player and as such, Australia kept their shape. Another change on 87minutes by Chile saw almost hero Eduardo Vargas removed for Mauricio Pinilla – like for like change as Chile was maybe still looking for a crucial third goal. The substitute would pay off in stoppage time, after Pinilla was through on goal but has his initial effort saved, fellow second-half substitute Beausejour smashed home the rebound low and hard from beyond 20 yards. The match would end 3-1, but Australia made them work desperately hard for the result, which could haunt them hen they take on Spain next.
Man of the Match
Alexis Sanchez – Got himself on the scoresheet and the assist column, as well as putting Pinilla through on goal which led to Beausejour’s goal and Chile’s third. He was influential throughout, constantly popping up in the right areas at the right time. With Vidal’s fitness still in question, he must take up the sword for Chile as their key player until the midfielder is fully fit.
Player ratings for Chile
Bravo: 6 – He didn’t do much wrong, but really didn’t make many strong saves either. He was serviceable, but did not much else honestly.
Mena: 6.5 – A little more defensively responsible on his flank, but he didn’t offer much going forward to help that flank.
Jara: 6 – Much like Medel, truly failed to make a difference when Australia actually did get going forward, especially in the second alf.
Medel: 5.5 – Truthfully was pretty average…even a little worse. Did a sub-par job in cutting Tim Cahill off from service in the box, and his ability at CB was found out.
Isla: 6.5 – Did well to join the attack frequently, but left space behind himself a little too often, but will be thankful Chile was not punished more harshly for it.
Vidal: 6 – VERY average, but that is due to his lack of fitness and not ability. Still and yet, he did little to really dictate proceedings.
Aranguiz: 7.0 – Despite being booked, he played well. Did a good job in the middle of the park to ruffle the feathers of Milligan and Jedinak all match long.
Diaz: 6.5 – Was quietly effective sure, but he didn’t raise his game to another level to really come through with his ability like many pegged him to.
Valdivia: 7.5 – Got himself on the scoresheet with an excellent effort and did well all evening to get into the right areas in the final third. Maybe could have had two.
Vargas: 6.5 – Had a good start like the rest of his countrymen, but really failed to do enough in the end. He faded fast after the opening flurry.
Sanchez: 8.5 – If he didn’t fade for a good 20-30minutes, his rating would have been higher. But he was the center of everything for Chile tonight – all three goals were a direct result of his play.
Gutierrez: 6 – Maybe he should have started from the off, but when he came on in the latter stages, he didn’t too too much, but he was decent at least.
Beausejour: 7.5 – Came off the bench and was lively the entire time. His third goal was well taken as well.
Pinilla: 7 – Had his effort saved in the run in to Beausejour’s goal, but he was more lively than Vargas, but only barely.
Player ratings for Australia
Ryan: 7 – Despite Mitcll Langerak not getting the call, Mathew Ryan has a good game. Was confident and self assured, and made a few good saves.
Davidson: 6.5 – Defended well an even threatened in the final third with some solid service from wider areas. He did struggle with Sanchez though, especially early on.
Spiranovic: 7 – With Wilkinson, they kept Vargas quiet and doing well to defend in the air as well.
Wilkinson: 7 – He had a good solid game, and did well to neutralize Vargas for the vast majority of the match.
Franjic: 6.5 – Did decent enough, but was unable to finish his shift as he was removed through injury.
Milligan: 7 – Was a real presence in midfield, and apart from allowing Valdivia a little too much space, did very well to neutralize Vidal and Diaz.
Jedinak: 7- His club form for Crystal Palace certainly carried over here, and he put in a good display. Similar to Milligan in his performance. He was good.
Oar: 6.5 – His pace threatened at times, but he just didn’t do enough to get too involved. He was on the fence with his involvement, but he did threaten occasionally.
Bresciano: 7 – Had a very slow and unnoticeable start, but he rebounded in the second half especially, very well. On a better day he bags a goal, as he was often in the right areas.
Leckie: 7 – Provided the assist on Cahill’s goal with a good bit of service, and like Oar, threatened with his pace out wide. He did that much extra to warrant his rating.
Cahill: 7.5 – Was a menace in the air, in the box and in tracking back all match. Really rolled the clock back with this performance.
McGowan: 6.5 – He replaced the injured Franjic, and he was decent. Did his job but wasn’t show stopping either.
Halloran: 6 – Came on and was okay, but his awareness was off and didn’t really threaten enough to make an impact
Troisi: 6 – Came on and didn’t do much either really. In all fairness, didn’t have all that much time to effect proceedings.