Football

Red-hot Chile down Australia 3-1

GROUP B

CHILE 3

(Alexis Sanchez 12, Jorge Valdivia 14, Jean Beausejour 90)

AUSTRALIA 1

(Tim Cahill 35)

Alexis Sanchez helped Chile pile the pressure on world champions Spain after a 3-1 win over Australia in their World Cup opener in Cuiaba saw them join Holland on top of Group B.

Sanchez set Chile on their way this morning (Singapore time) and the Barcelona star turned provider two minutes later to set up Jorge Valdivia.

Tim Cahill pulled one back before half-time, with Wigan Athletic's Jean Beausejour grabbing a late third for Chile in a pulsating encounter under the Arena Pantanal's floodlights.

But, following Spain's 5-1 rout by the Dutch earlier in Salvador, the reigning champions almost certainly must beat Chile to avoid an ignominious early exit.

The Chilean's 12th-minute opener came after sterling work by Charles Aranguiz in the Australia box, the midfielder's efforts resulting in the ball landing at Sanchez's feet, spelling danger for an Australian defence all at sea.

The prolific striker did not let the opportunity slip, clipping the ball right-footed past goalkeeper Matthew Ryan.

Among those celebrating in the 20,000-strong Chilean support were Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini, and the country's president Michelle Bachelet.

Two minutes later, the Aussie backline was once again found wanting.

Sanchez set up the second, feeding the ball to an unmarked Valdivia whose sweetly-struck shot from the edge of the box sailed over the helpless Ryan's head.

If Australia were going to get back into the game, it was going to take some magic from the veteran Cahill, the country's all-time top scorer.

And the New York Red Bulls star duly obliged, outjumping his marker, Cardiff City's Gary Medel, to head past Chile captain Claudio Bravo in the 35th minute.

Cahill, sent off in Australia's first match four years ago in South Africa, wasn't a million miles away from a quick second - his shot as half-time beckoned denied only by the shins of Bravo.

Pellegrini would no doubt have given anything to descend from his commentary box and impart a word or two of advice to his 11 countrymen at the interval.

SERIOUS TASK

Chile, buoyed by Arturo Vidal's return to fitness after a knee problem, faced a serious task at the restart to reassert their early domination against a reinvigorated Australia.

But, soon after, Bravo was picking the ball out of the back of his net, only for Cahill's effort to be justifiably disallowed for offside.

The scales had firmly tilted in Australia's favour and only Bravo's outstretched hand denied Mark Bresciano's attempt.

Felipe Gutierrez replaced Vidal on the hour, as Aussie defender Alex Wilkinson performed heroics to stop Eduardo Vargas' shot, which had nipped past Ryan, from crossing an empty goal-line.

As the stifling conditions took their toll, second-half substitute Beausejour sealed Australia's fate as Chile joined the Dutch at the top of Group B. 
- AFP.

  • CHILE: Claudio Bravo, Mauricio Isla, Gary Medel, Gonzalo Jara, Eugenio Mena, Marcelo Diaz, Charles Arranguiz, Arturo Vidal (Felipe Gutierrez 60), Jorge Valdivia (Jean Beausejour 68), Alexis Sanchez, Eduardo Vargas (Mauricio Pinilla 88)
  • AUSTRALIA: Mathew Ryan, Ivan Franjic (Ryan McGowan 49), Matthew Spiranovic, Alex Wilkinson, Jason Davidson, Mark Bresciano (James Troisi 78), Mile Jedinak, Mark Milligan, Tommy Oar (Ben Halloran 69), Tim Cahill, Mathew Leckie
World Cup