Australia out despite draw with Chile

The clash between Australia and Chile in the Russian capital was the first meeting between the two sides since the 2014 World Cup where Chile prevailed 3-1. On this occasion, Australia needed a two goal victory to progress to the Confederations Cup semi finals while anything less would see Chile make it through. Ange Postecoglou made six changes to the side that drew 1-1 with Cameroon with headline inclusion being Tim Cahill who would captain the side in his 100th cap.

The match began with blistering intensity with both sides enjoying spritely passages of play. Chile had the first big opportunity in the 8th minute when José Pedro Fuenzalida crossed the ball into Arturo Vidal who hit a side volley forcing Mat Ryan into a strong save.

The South Americans had a penalty appeal in the 25th minute when Mark Milligan seemed to take down Alexis Sanchez. The decision went to the VAR which showed Milligan made a vital touch, ultimately saving an excellent goal scoring opportunity.

Australia was pressing the Chileans which lead to a number of turnovers. From one in the 35th minute James Troisi poked a ball over the defence for Massimo Luongo whose shot was smothered by a fully stretched Claudio Bravo.

Chile was struggling at the back end of the first half and Australia capitalised by pulling ahead in the 42nd minute. Robbie Kruse pounced on the ball in the middle of the park before finding Trent Sainsbury, he returned the ball to Kruse who picked out an unmarked Troisi on the left of the box who audaciously dinked over Bravo to give Australia the lead.

In the seconds before half time, Australia should have had a second. A headed ball into the box was knocked down by Cahill for Sainsbury who thumped his effort well over the crossbar. The defender must have thought he was offside but nonetheless it was a shocking miss leaving the score at 1-0 to Australia.

Chile made two half time changes in an effort secure their spot in the final four. Eduardo Vargas and Sanchez had chances in the opening ten minutes of the second half but Ryan was on hand to produce two smart saves.

In the 63rd minute, Troisi created another stellar chance. The uncontracted playmaker lobbed the ball into the box for Kruse who was unable to get a touch on it from 6-yards out.

Australia’s missed opportunities eventually cost them when Chile equalised after 67 minutes. Sainsbury’s headed clearance looped up in the box, Sanchez out jumped Aziz Behich with the ball finding Martin Rodriguez who fumbled the ball past Ryan for his first international goal.

Two minutes later the South Americans nearly scored a second when Sanchez outpaced Milligan on the left before a cross into Vargas whose header strayed to the right of the goal.

Troisi continued his mastery in the midfield with another dink into the box, this time finding substitute Jamie Maclaren but the striker pushed his shot to the left from 6 yards out.

Australia continued to work for an opening but their high-intensity game plan had taken its toll with match puffing to its conclusion with the two sides sharing the points. The result means Chile finish second in Group B and they are set to play Portugal in the semi finals.

As for Australia, the draw leaves them in third place meaning an end to their Confederations Cup campaign. Postecoglou came into the tournament believing his side could win it and after the match, he was visibly distraught about his side being bundled out, “I’m shattered, I am hugely disappointed just for the players because they have put in an enormous effort against a world-class team.”

Australia now has to turn its attention to the crucial World Cup qualifier against Japan in two months time. A victory against their biggest Asian rivals will also but ensure direct passage back to Russia in 2018.

Australia – 1 (Troisi 42’)

Chile – 1 (Rodriguez 67’)