Defending champions Spain were eliminated from the World Cup with a game to spare last night, as they fell to a 2-0 defeat at the hands of a hard-working Chile side.
Eduardo Vargas put the Chileans in front midway through the first half, and Charles Aranguiz took advantage of a mistake by Iker Casillas to make it 2-0.
Vicente Del Bosque’s men had a number of opportunities to get back into the game but lacked pace and were let down by the poor form of Diego Costa, who seemed to have been rushed back from his end of season knee injury.
Spain nearly went behind inside the first minute as a defensive mix-up between Sergio Ramos and Javi Martinez saw striker Vargas’ poke deflected behind.
Vargas did open the scoring after 19 minutes when Xabi Alonso was dispossessed on the halfway line; Alexis Sanchez’s and Aranguiz linked up well to find Vargas who slotted past the onrushing Casillas.
Chile’s resolute defending meant that Spain were restricted to half chances; Diego Costa’s 26th minute close-range shot into the side-netting was the most the defending champions could muster up in the first half.
Alonso summed up Spain’s frustration just before half-time as he was booked for a dangerous lunge on Mauricio Isla.
Three minutes later Chile doubled their lead as Casillas’ poor punch from Sanchez’s free-kick fell kindly to Charles Aranguiz, who calmly fired home.
Spain were presented with two glorious opportunities to get back on level terms at the start of the second half; Diego Costa getting the ball stuck under his feet when through on goal, before Sergio Busquets failed to convert Costa’s cross from two yards.
Jorge Sampaoli’s men, whose physical strength was far superior to their Spanish opponents, almost extended their lead even further as Eugenio Mena’s cross-come-shot was fired just over the bar by the outstretched leg of Isla.
Neither side could find a way through in the second half, with Chile happy to sit back and hit Spain on the break whilst Diego Costa, who had been charged with firing Spain to victory, failed to impress once again.
Substitute Santi Cazorla and Andres Iniesta both tested Bravo’s reflexes with long-range efforts in the final 10 minutes, whilst Jordi Alba hit a wayward shot deep into injury time.
Spain join Australia in heading home early from Brazil whilst Holland and Chile will battle it out for top spot in Group B on Monday evening at the Arena de Sao Paulo.
Write for GiveMeSport! Sign-up to the GMS Writing Academy here: http://gms.to/1a2u3KU