Alexis Sanchez was on target as Chile opened their 2014 FIFA World Cup campaign with a solid 3-1 win over Australia.
The Barcelona forward opened the scoring at Cuiaba's Arena Pantanal, before further strikes from Jorge Valdivia and Jean Beausejour ensured the perfect start to Group B for Jorge Sampaoli’s men.
Sanchez was one of three current La Liga players representing the Chileans, along with Real Sociedad keeper and captain Claudio Bravo, and Valencia loanee Eduardo Vargas.
Former Sevilla man Gary Medel played the full 90 minutes, while ex-Celta Vigo loanee Mauricio Pinilla came on for the final couple of minutes and had a shot saved in the build-up to the third goal.
The South Americans set out to build on their reputation at these finals and they were two up inside 14 minutes.
Some tricky play between Sanchez and Charles Aranguiz in the area led to the latter’s cross breaking kindly for the Barca striker, who calmly slotted past Matthew Ryan in the Australian goal.
Two minutes later they doubled their lead. Sanchez was once again involved as he received the ball from the darting Mauricio Isla, and laid the ball on for Valdivia who found himself in acres of space before brilliantly sweeping the ball into the roof of the net.
Ange Postecoglou’s men needed an answer and they got one in the 35th minute. Some nice build-up around the penalty area from the Aussies resulted in Tim Cahill rising highest in the box, to send a bullet of a header past Bravo from Ivan Franjic’s cross.
This seemed to give the Socceroos some incentive and they pushed for the equaliser at the start of the second half.
Cahill had the ball in the net again in the 52nd minute with another powerful header from Matthew Leckie’s cross from the right-hand side, but the former Everton man was ruled out this time for offside.
Veteran Marko Bresciano then went close with a clean low strike from the edge of the area that was brilliantly kept out by Bravo.
There was a worrying sign for Chile when talisman Arturo Vidal limped off. The Juventus man had been a doubt for the tournament after a series of injuries in the last couple of months.
Vargas almost lifted Vidal’s spirits as he poked the ball past Ryan, but was denied by an outstanding goal-line clearance by the scrambling Alex Wilkinson.
Chile did wrap the game up though in stoppage-time. Some crisp play around the area saw substitute Pinilla in plenty of space, before he drew a good save out of Ryan but Beausejour pounced on the rebound and drove the ball home from 25 yards out.
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