CUIABA, Brazil - Chile got off to a winning start in Group B, putting Australia to the sword with a 3-1 win at the Arena Pantanal on Friday.
It looked as if the Chileans would cruise to a comfortable victory after they scored twice inside the opening 14 minutes.
Alexis Sanchez grabbed the opener in the 12th minute following a well-worked move from defense to attack. The sequence culminated with Eduardo Vargas squaring a pass for the Barcelona attacker to slot past Australia goalkeeper Matthew Ryan from close range.
Within two minutes, the South American side doubled its advantage, this time with Sanchez providing the assist. The 25-year-old drifted toward the top of the penalty area before slipping a pass to the feet of Jorge Valdivia, who took one touch to settle before curling a brilliant right-footed shot into the roof of the net.
Chile controlled the opening period until Australia nicked a goal against the run of play in the 35th minute. Tim Cahill used his leaping ability to get on the end of Ivan Franjic's cross and nod the delivery past Claudio Bravo for his fourth career World Cup goal.
Australia began to take the match to Chile and came close to leveling the score on a couple of occasions.
Cahill thought he nabbed the equalizer in the 53rd minute when he turned in a cross from close range, but the Red Bull New York striker was correctly judged to have been in an offside position when the ball was delivered.
Three minutes later, Marco Bresciano found space on the right side of the box and unleashed a low shot that looked destined for the bottom corner, but Bravo managed to get a hand to the effort. Bresciano followed up and nearly stuffed home the rebound, but Bravo denied the Australian on the second attempt.
They proved to be pivotal misses as the Socceroos conceded a late goal to seal the defeat.
Jean Beausejour did the honors, collecting a save from Ryan and firing home a first-time effort from long range.
The win sees Chile climb to the top of the group to go level with the Netherlands on three points apiece, though the Dutch side takes first place on goal difference.
Australia has the daunting task of facing Holland on Wednesday after the Dutch side dismantled Spain in a 5-1 victory.
Chile will return to action on Wednesday against Spain in a fixture that is sure to be closely contested.