When the Socceroos were drawn to play Chile in the refitted Arena Pantanal’s first match of this World Cup many were expecting Australia to be on the end of a hiding.
Chile were good to their promise of unflagging, almost irrational, attack, the outstanding front two of Eduardo Vargas and Alexis Sánchez racing forward at every opportunity with something like a primal lust for goal.
The Socceroos had looked reasonably comfortable until the opening goal, and nothing was happening much after 10 minutes when the ball came towards Mat Ryan in goal. But the young keeper flapped forward, then back, allowing Charles Aránguiz to squeeze through on the byline and float a ball back across goal, where Vargas clashed with a tangle of Australian players, sending the ball straight to the feet of Sánchez.
Goal 1: Click here to watch first goal
The Barcelona player planted his finish past Ryan with the cool authority of someone applying mere punctuation to a statement everyone had already agreed on: Chile were simply too good. Sánchez’s goal was a thing of almost Cahill-esque positioning and timing.
Goal 2: Click here to watch second goal
For a moment it looked like the Socceroos would never get the ball, but when they did, it was a bit of direct running down the right from Matthew Leckie that set them back on their path. Chile’s early aggression waned and the Socceroos worked themselves back into the match.
The goal, when it came, was of a familiarity to warm even the most football-phobic Australian heart, Ivan Franjic hustling down the right, before the ball pinned off Leckie and fell to the defender’s feet again. A cross, a Cahill leap, a goal.
Australia goal: Click here to watch Australia goal
However, the equaliser just would not come – and when the substitute Jean Beausejour scored the Chileans’ third in the dying minutes, the fate of the Socceroos at this World Cup was all but confirmed.
Last goal: Click here to watch last goal