Spain managed to end a disappointing World Cup campaign on a high with a 3-0 win over Australia. La Roja were able to restore some pride thanks to goals from David Villa, Fernando Torres and Juan Mata.
Pride was the the only thing at stake for Del Bosque’s side, after losing their first two group matches, eliminating them from the competition.
There were a number of milestones in this match for Spain, with Villa making his final international appearance, Andreas Iniesta reaching 100 caps, and Pepe Reina making his World Cup debut.
The defending champions were in control early, created a spate of half-chances, as David Villa blazed over a volley and Jordi Alba shot straight as Australia keeper Matthew Ryan.
And neither Koke, nor Torres were able to get a decisive touch on Villa’s cross after the striker had done well to skilfully beat Mile Jedinak.
But soon, the Spaniards made their pressure pay, as David Villa scored his 59th and last goal for Spain. Iniesta’s incisive pass found the marauding Juanfran, whose low cross picked out the New York City striker, who beat the keeper with a clever flick.
Again it was Iniesta pulling the strings, and it was his through ball that found Fernando Torres, who had the composure to open up his body, and coolly slot past Ryan.
Villa’s performance made his exclusion questionable. At the ripe old age of 32 still put Australia to the sword, and has scored seven of Spain’s last 11 world cup goals. And with 9 goals in 12 World Cup matches, Villa will no doubt be a part of Spanish football history.
But after just 57 minutes, his swansong was cut short, as Villa was replaced by Juan Mata. Spain Boss Vicente Del Bosque admitted he was unaware of the fact that Villa was playing his final international match.
“He seemed annoyed," said Del Bosque. "He said it was his last game but I didn't know. I'm sure he was upset.
"I was thinking about it was time to kill off the game and we did that."
Regardless, Del Bosque’s change proved influential, as Mata bagged a goal just eight minutes from time.
Again Iniesta involved, as he found substitute Cesc Fabregas, who delivered a sumptuous cross-box pass to the feet of Mata, who checked back onto his left side poked the ball through the legs of Australia’s keeper.
Finally, Spain were beginning to play the quality of football expected of them. The score could have been more emphatic, which would have been harsh on the Australians, given their work-rate throughout the match and their performances throughout the tournament.
But no matter how well Spain played in this match, it does not change the fact that they have dropped out of the competition at the very first hurdle. An inquest is sure to take place, however this win shows that Spain are still a side rich with quality side with a future.
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