Ange Postecoglou's players earned back the respect of the football world thanks to a valiant loss, with Tim Cahill and Mark Bresciano playing starring roles
The ever-popular FIFA did their best to rob the Socceroos of some national pride before the game had even kicked off by making them play in unfamiliar gold shorts. But that didn't stop Ange Postecoglou's players from standing up and being counted. Gloomy pre-match predications of complete humiliation proved well wide of the mark, although disaster loomed when Australia were picked apart and left rocking at 2-0 down inside the first 15 minutes.
They responded in fine style however, had the better of the second half and were unfortunate not to score what would have been a deserved equaliser. Memories of the 6-0 thrashings against Brazil and France were banished for now, but a daunting match against the rampant Netherlands awaits.
Defensive lapses undermine good start
Socceroos supporters dared to hope in the opening exchanges, as Chile opted for patient build-up and possession over their predicted high-pressing, high-tempo approach. Anyone who watched the South Americans control proceedings against England at Wembley won't have been surprised by their mastery of the ball and more considered strategy.
Australia kept their shape well and were surprisingly comfortable early on - perhaps too comfortable. Lulled into a false sense of security, the defence failed to react quickly enough to clear the ball in the lead-up to Alexis Sanchez's opener. Two minutes later, Mile Jedinak was turned too easily and the bulk of the defence got sucked across the box, leaving plenty of room for Jorge Valdivia to put Chile 2-0 up.
Cahill the master of headed goals
Surely one of the best and most consistent scorers of headed goals in his generation, 'Timmy' Cahill produced the goods yet again on Friday, climbing above Gary Medel to pull one back from Ivan Franjic's excellent cross. He had other chances to register from aerial deliveries and although the Netherlands' backline is less diminutive, Louis Van Gaal will still be wary of the Socceroos' veteran forward and his extraordinarily prolific forehead.
Will Ange be punished for right-back gamble?
Eyebrows were raised when Postecoglou omitted experienced defender Luke Wilkshire from the 23-man squad, seemingly leaving the Socceroos without a dedicated right-back to cover Ivan Franjic. The Brisbane Roar man, who was forced out of the farewell friendly with South Africa due to a knee knock, limped off again in Cuiaba, this time due to a hamstring injury which rule him out of Australia's remaining matches.
Ryan McGowan acquitted himself well when he came on, but it's hard to forget the Shandong Luneng man, nominally a centre-back, being shredded by Neymar in that nightmare friendly last September. With Alex Wilkinson inside him, the Socceroos now appear to have a terminal lack of pace on the right side of their defence.
Bresciano emerges triumphant from cotton wool
All the focus in the build-up to the Chile game in the Australian media was on the fitness of Mark Bresciano and rightly so. The veteran midfielder had been nursing a flare up of his chronic back problem and only made a cameo off the bench in the final warm-up game against Croatia last weekend.
But, as promised by Postecoglou, he started against Chile and was arguably the Socceroos' best player, defying his age to cover the pitch well and close down opponents, before supplying the vision and passing range his team required to have any hope of carving open their highly rated opponents. Fingers crossed his aging body holds up for the next two matches against the Netherlands and Spain.