Spain’s reign of footballing dominance is over, as their World Cup defence has come to a premature end after two dismal displays leaves them bottom of Group B and unable to make up the ground with one game left.
Chile were the team to put Spain to the sword, although the Spanish still looked to be recovering from their shock hammering to the Netherlands last Friday. Chile took the lead on 19 minutes, capitalising on the uncharacteristic lack of passing control of Spain to break through Alexis Sanchez who put Charles Aranguiz through on the right who centred it to Eduardo Vargas to shimmy round Iker Casillas and put the ball in the net. Aranguiz doubled Chile’s lead just twenty minutes later as Iker Casillas chose to punch clear a free-kick which fell to the Chilean to react quickly and bundle home. Spain began to show signs of the team they once were in the second half, with chances for Diego Costa and Sergio Busquets that could have put them level and changed the course of the game. Chile were content with controlling the game and slowing Spain’s toothless advances and saw out the win to put them through.
Holland also sealed their qualification with an exciting 3-2 win over Australia. Arjen Robben continued his brilliant form by outpacing the Australian defence and putting the ball low into Mark Ryan’s goal to put Holland in the lead on 20 minutes. However, straight from kick-off Australia made a move for their equaliser which came as Tim Cahill scored a screamer of a volley that echoed Marco Van Basten’s Euro 88 goal to level the score again. The Dutch failed to hit the flowing style they managed against Spain, and Australia had chances to go ahead before half-time but couldn’t convert. The Aussies were awarded a soft penalty ten minutes into the second half, as a cross hit Daryl Janmaat’s trailing arm, and Mile Jedinak did the honours to give Australia the lead. Robin Van Persie soon restored the balance by getting in behind the Australian defence and smashing the ball in. Ten minutes later Holland scored the final goal of a great game as Memphis Depay’s shot bounced in front of Ryan who couldn’t stop the ball going in. Despite late Australian pressure, Holland held on for the win.
The game between the Netherlands and Chile on Monday (5pm, ITV) will decide the winner and runner-up of Group B. It is far from a ‘nothing’ game, as the 2nd placed side will likely face Brazil – still the tournament favourites. Both sides have looked good so far, and goals could be plentiful. The other match in Group B is a dead rubber, but pride is still at stake. Spain will want to avoid the embarrassment of going without a win in their World Cup defence, whilst Australia will be looking for sweet consolation after two close defeats against the group’s two best sides. It could be the last appearance of many of Spain’s ruling team, with the likes of Xavi, Pique, Casillas and Iniesta all rumoured to be considering their international future.