Australia Show World Cup Fight Against Chile Despite Inexperience

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Australia Show World Cup Fight Against Chile Despite Inexperience
Thanassis Stavrakis/Associated Press

A young and inexperienced Australia side looked out of their depth early on against Chile, but they showed tremendous fight to get back into the game in the second half.

Chile took the honours 3-1 in the end, but the scoreline was probably not a fair reflection of the closeness of the contest, particularly in the second term.

The odds were stacked against the Socceroos, who came into the World Cup as the lowest-ranked team.

A generational shift and injuries to key players meant Ange Postecoglou's squad had a very patched-together feel about it, and the team was always going to face difficulties against the top quality opposition in their group.

In spite of all those issues, Australia put in a commendable showing against the South Americans, especially considering that Chile got off to a blistering start.

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Things looked particularly grim when Alexis Sanchez took advantage of some sloppy marking in the 12th minute to bury the first real chance of the match.

Two minutes later, Chile had doubled their advantage after Australia's defence demonstrated their lack of understanding to leave Jorge Valdivia all on his own, with the playmaker promptly burying his chance.

At that stage it appeared the Socceroos were being completely overwhelmed and could be about to receive an embarrassing hiding.

The men in yellow withstood further pressure, however, then began to fight their way back into the match.

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After a few probing crosses, Brisbane Roar's Ivan Franjic eventually sent in a perfect delivery from the right, and Australia's perennial World Cup hero Tim Cahill rose about Gary Medel to head in his fourth-ever goal on the biggest stage and halve Chile's advantage.

Postecoglou must have said something inspirational at half-time, because his chargers lifted to another level after the break.

While Chile refused to take a backward step and continued to push forward in attack, it is fair to say that the Socceroos were at least their equals in the second term.

Cahill had several more chances from headers, and even got the ball in the back of the net, though the play was called back as he was marginally offside.

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Another veteran, Mark Bresciano, had superb chance to equalise in the 57th minute as he latched on to a cross, but his blazing low shot was brilliantly saved.

Mathew Leckie was particularly brilliant, repeatedly troubling opposition defenders by running at them at pace.

As the match entered its latter stages, both sides tired noticeably, and in the end, Australia were not able to find the second goal that their play perhaps merited. 

An injury-time goal from Jean Beausejour caught Australia out at the back and increased Chile's winning margin.

The Socceroos can head into their second encounter with their heads held high, though, after a spirited display against one of the strongest teams in South America.

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