NELSPRUIT, South Africa: Jean Beausejour tapped in the only goal Wednesday, giving Chile its first World Cup victory in 48 years with a 1-0 win over Honduras.
Beausejour knocked in a cross from defender Mauricio Isla in the 34th minute to give the Chileans three points in Group H.
"We’re very happy, and we have to enjoy this triumph," Chile forward Alexis Sanchez said. "But we have to move ahead and win the game against our next rival."
Chile came close to doubling its lead on several occasions but squandered several chances, particularly in the second half.
In the 62nd, Sanchez dragged a clear-cut chance wide after he was put through by playmaker Jorge Valdivia. And in the 64th, defender Waldo Ponce saw his close-range header saved by Honduras goalkeeper Noel Valladares.
Substitute Mark Gonzalez had three attempts on goal near the end.
"We could have scored more goals and we were on top," Chile coach Marcelo Bielsa said. "You can’t foresee what will happen, but if the group is decided in that way (on goal difference) then we will rue the chances we missed."
Chile was on the attack almost from the start, with midfielder Matias Fernandez threatening in the second minute with a free kick that curled just over the bar.
Valdivia tapped one in the net in the 75th but was ruled offside.
Honduras found it difficult to break through a well-organized Chilean defense, which was led by Gary Medel, and was restricted to long-range efforts, primarily from lone striker Carlos Pavon.
Honduras’ best chance came from midfielder Ramon Nunez, who threatened with a free kick in first-half injury time that was tipped over the bar by goalkeeper Claudio Bravo.
Beausejour said Hondura’s defensive tactics were tough to break down, and was happy his team had overcome the tension of its first match.
"They were very simple. They didn’t do anything complicated at the back," Beausejour said. "They had no problems booting the ball upfield and, in the end, that can make the game difficult.
"We got over the anxiety by running, which is what we do best, and by trying to play football."
Honduras defender Sergio Mendoza, whose attempted clearance rebounded off Beausejour for the winning goal, said his team had been unlucky.
"It’s unfair because the goal was accidental," Mendoza said. "From then on, they didn’t have any clear scoring opportunities."
Chile’s last victory at the World Cup came on June 16, 1962, when it hosted the tournament and beat Yugoslavia 1-0 for third place. This is Chile’s first World Cup appearance since 1998, when the team managed to get past the group stage with three draws.
Bielsa said Chile needed to build on the victory. "We’ll try to win the next game because the objective is to pass to the next round and start writing new records," he said.
Chile plays Switzerland next on Monday in Port Elizabeth, while Honduras will face Spain at Ellis Park.
Honduras played without midfielder Julio Cesar de Leon, who was ruled out of the tournament with a hamstring injury. Coach Reinaldo Rueda replaced him with Jerry Palacios, making the national team the first to feature three brothers in a World Cup squad.
"We lost a bit of what Honduras needed in the middle," Honduras assistant coach Alexis Mendoza said. "We’re going to get better so we have a chance to qualify for the next round."
Mendoza was sitting in for Rueda, who served a touchline ban after having been sent off in Honduras’ last qualifier against El Salvador.
As well as De Leon, striker David Suazo was missing for Honduras after failing to recover from a right thigh injury. Bielsa said he thought the absence of those two key players had affected Honduras.
"I felt that Honduras came into the game with lots of problems," Bielsa said. "That distanced the team from their normal production. It’s not easy for any team to cope without De Leon and Suazo. I think that’s why Honduras couldn’t show the best of themselves."
Mendoza said his team doesn’t have much time to recover.
"We’ve got to come together quickly for the next game," he said. "Our mentality is strong. There are two games left, difficult opponents but not impossible."