Chile 3 – 1 Australia
Alexis Sanchez 12 Tim Cahill 35
Jorge Valdivia 14
Jean Beausejour 90 +1:31
World Cup 2014 Arena Pantanal
A week ago it was widely reported that Arturo Vidal would miss the Australia game, and he might be a late exclusion from the Chile roster. Well, Vidal must have heard that, because he upped his recovery speed and not only started versus Australia, but he had a pretty decent outing for someone who hadn’t played a full match in nearly two months.
While Vidal was rusty, his teammates were definitely not. Chile, and Mauricio Isla, came out attacking and totally overwhelmed Australia for 20 minutes. Alexis Sanchez and Jorge Valdivia both had goals, with Sanchez being the main attacking outlet for Chile – and rightfully so. The two Chilean goals scored in that 20 should have ended the game, but Australia didn’t back down so easily, and they pulled back a goal in the 35th minute via New York Redbull man Tim Cahill.
The Cahill goal changed the character of the game, and Australia went from a dead team down 2-0 to the scrappy island nation – and/or continent – that could shock the world, or Chile. Indeed, there were several scoring opportunities for Australia to equalize but nothing came of them.
Jean Beausejour scored in the 90th minute to add another goal for Chile, and that was that. Chile had a nice win, while Australia put on a valiant fight.
Now, if we look at the Juve players specifically we have an odd situation. Mauricio Isla, the red-headed stepchild of Juventus, had a phenomenal game. He is usually far better for Chile than he is for Juve, and today that continued. He had four tackles – you hear that Arturo? – a pair of interceptions, and he was a big influence for Chile out wide. It truly was the Isla who convinced Juve to buy him from Udinese.
Meanwhile Vidal, who is admittedly not at all in form, had an ok game. He had the type of game Isla had often this season for Juve – not bad, not very good either. He did have a cross that led to the first Chile goal, his switch preceded the two or three final passes for that first Alexis Sanchez goal. Generally his passing was pretty good, but his tackling and finishing were not. He did make one tackle, and it was that kind of Vidal tackle that looks sloppy, but really it’s not, and it works. He also had a chance to score, but his shot was way off and went far left of goal. He was substituted off in the 60th minute, and it seems his knee held up. While his performance wasn’t stellar, it must be said his fast recovery from injury is incredibly impressive.
Given Spain’s 5-1 loss to the Netherlands, Chile are in a very good position to qualify at the moment. Of course, their next match is against Spain on Wednesday. This will probably decide which team gets out of the group alongside Holland – and they will need both Isla and Vidal at their best.