|South American side Chile were up against Australia, in what looked to be a mis-match|
South American side Chile were playing against the underdogs of the tournament Australia, who I had previously predicted could be the pushovers of the group unless they could conjure up some magic.
This was the third and final match of the second day in the World Cup, and even though on paper it was a mismatch, it would be interesting to see how both teams fared in their first match of the tournament after an entertaining Spain vs Holland game a few hours before.
Chile were the favourites to win the match beforehand, and they did not disappoint. It was clear to see from the start of the match that they were dominating and they used possession well in their opponents’ half as they galloped forward with the likes of Vidal, Sanchez, Vargas and Valdivia all pushing into the Australian area as they looked to score early on.
It did not take very long to see the breakthrough either, two goals in the space of two minutes from Chile thanks to Barcelona forward Alexis Sanchez and Jorge Valdivia, both getting a goal on the scoresheet in quick succession to send the supporters wild and lower the Australian players’ morale.
|Well-struck: Valdivia made it 2 in 2 minutes with a curling strike beyond the keeper|
|Sanchez celebrates his effort to give the South American side the lead after 12 minutes|
With the likes of Vidal in the midfield, he was always seeking out a team-mate in space for a pass, which meant that Chile saw a lot of the ball and thus made sure that Australia were chasing the game, at 2-0 down.
And then the unexpected happened. 34 minutes gone, Chile struggled to clear the danger and a long cross into the box was clinically headed into the top corner of the net by former Everton midfielder and Australian legend Tim Cahill from close range. The game was turned on its head and Australia were back in with a chance.
|Accurate: Cahill's header brought the game to life; but it was not enough for the Aussies|
|Back in it: Cahill's strike gave the underdogs a clear sight of hope, to get back into the match.|
The score-line was 2-1 to Chile at half-time, and even though it was clear that the South Americans had dominated the game; they were not comfortable enough to take the game for granted. Australia had created a half-chance out of nothing, with Cahill taking his chance to pop up and score - so you could argue that it could easily happen again.
The second-half was more of the same: Australia continued to pressure Chile and started having a few half-chances of their own. Amazing how the scoreline can motivate a team to perform better. At 2-0 down, they looked crestfallen. At 2-1, they realised that there was a chance they could get a good result out of the match.
Bravo was forced into making a good acrobatic save early on in the second period after another Cahill goal was disallowed for offside - before Chile showed the power of a quick counter attack and almost made it 3-1 with a scruffy tap-in by Vargas, but to no avail.
Defender Alex Wilkinson made a dramatic goal-line clearance to deny the Valencia striker, as the game started to intensify. Both sides started to make substitutions with around 20 minutes left to play on the clock - Vidal was replaced in the 60th minute and was visibly upset as despite having a good game was struggling with a knee injury so could not play the full match.
As the match continued, Australia pushed forward seeking the equaliser, but Chile were desperate to stay strong in defence as well as get on the counter attack when they could.
Despite a late effort from the Aussies, a late goal from substitute and Wigan forward Jean Beausejour killed off their hopes of a last-gasp equaliser, with an emphatic finish into the bottom corner of the net in the 2nd minute of stoppage time. Chile deserved the win, and they got it in the end, despite a tense finale.
Here is the Group B table at the moment -
1st place - Netherlands with 3pts
2nd place - Chile with 3pts
3rd place - Australia with 0pts
4th place - Spain with 0pts
Stay tuned for more World Cup action - I have a LIVE Commentary from the England vs Italy game later on tonight.