Australia vs Spain match report World Cup 2014: Andres Iniesta inspires flashes of old Spain as David Villa makes tearful farewell
Australia 0 Spain 3
Monday 23 June 2014
There was no royalty, Rafa Nadal or Placido Domingo waiting in their dressing room as happened when they last said goodbye to a World Cup. This was not Soccer City with its gold ticker tape raining down on them. This time they will go home and try to forget but at least Spain avoided total humiliation in their dead- rubber game against Australia yesterday.
Their first goal arrived after 36 minutes with the little Barcelona man at the heart of it. His wonderful pass down the Spanish inside-right channel took out two Australians and released Juanfran to cut the ball back for Villa to apply a cute back-heel finish. It was his ninth World Cup goal and, playing like a man determined to go out on a high, he celebrated with not so much a kiss of the badge as a full-scale snog. He looked frustrated at his substitution early in the second half, though Del Bosque claimed afterwards not to have realised the significance of the moment.
Australians will be seeing more of Villa in the near future as he will join the Manchester City-owned Melbourne City on loan ahead of a new career in the MLS with New York City. He might have scored sooner but volleyed wide from an Iniesta cross before teeing up Jordi Alba to test Australia goalkeeper Maty Ryan.
For Australia, this defeat meant the Group B wooden spoon. Moreover, for the first time in four World Cups, they will head back Down Under without a point. Without the suspended Tim Cahill, they barely tested Pepe Reina on his World Cup debut yet their campaign had its positives: they pushed Chile and the Netherlands all the way in their first two games and gave us one of the goals of this World Cup with Cahill’s stunning volley against the Dutch.
Torres and Mata celebrate during Spain's win over Australia
After those efforts, though, Australia coach Ange Postecoglou admitted they “looked a little bit tired” and it was no surprise when Spain increased their advantage.
After 69 minutes Iniesta’s pass put Torres clear to shoot low past Ryan. Two substitutes then fashioned the third goal as Chelsea new boy Cesc Fabregas – sent on despite having earned Del Bosque’s ire with his attitude on the training ground – lifted a far-post pass to Mata. The Manchester United player, enjoying a belated taste of World Cup action, brought the ball down and shot through Ryan’s legs.
On the bench, Del Bosque’s face betrayed all the emotion of an Easter Island statue. “It was a dignified way to end our participation here,” he said afterwards but that will be no consolation at all.
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