Spain 3 Socceroos 0
World Cup: Spain defeat Australia 3-0
Spain have outclassed Australia beating the Socceroos 3-0 in Curitiba. But the young and inexperienced Socceroos showed some flashes of brilliance.PT2M15S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-3apd7 620 349 June 24, 2014
Curitiba: Two inspirational passes from the master of tiki taka, Andres Iniesta, the first finished off by one Spanish legend in David Villa, the second by another name from Spain's recent great past, Fernando Torres, paved the way for the current world champions to outclass Australia 3-0 in the final World Cup fixture for both teams.
The first goal had come in the first half, the second with 21 minutes to go.
Game over: Juan Mata tucks away the third goal. Photo: Getty Images
|View Match Statistics|
|Players||Scorers||Scorers||Players||David Villa (36' mins), Fernando Torres (69' mins), Juan Mata (82' mins)|
By the time Spain's two substitutes combined - Cesc Fabregas with the cross, Juan Mata with the controlled finish through Australian goalkeeper Mat Ryan's legs - the game was firmly in their grasp.
The result was academic in the end, as both nations were already eliminated, but it was a perfect way for Spain to farewell some of the champions of the past decade.
Villa was playing his 97th and final international and left the field in tears when he made way for Mata - while Iniesta, was winning his 100th cap in this match.
2-0: Fernando Torres scores Spain's second goal. Photo: Getty Images
And for Australia, without a number of first choice players, it was another tremendous opportunity for Ange Postecoglou to gauge the strength of his young squad, hot house the development of those who will form the backbone of the team in years to come and measure how far they have progressed since this tournament begun.
The scoreline was a disappointment for an Australian squad that has built momentum throughout this tournament, but they were never in this game in the way they were against Chile, where they were unlucky, and The Netherlands, where they gave one of the tournament favourites an almighty fright.
Spain might have been deposed as title holders and have been some way below their marvellous best, but they are still a team crammed full of players who earn their living at Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea, Atletico Madrid, Manchester City and Bayern Munich, some of the biggest club sides in the world.
David Villa flicked Spain in front. Photo: Getty Images
And they were desperate to avoid the ignominy of defeat against a team ranked so far below them coming into the tournament and not to finish bottom of the group.
Vicente Del Bosque's got their noses in front nine minutes before the interval with a goal whose build up was reminiscent of the days when the former world champions were able to rip teams apart with slick passing and dynamic movement.
Iniesta picked up the all on the Spanish right, and spotted the galloping run of full back Juanfran, whose pace took him tearing past Jason Davidson. The Australian defender was simply taken out of the game by the pass which bisected the space behind him.
Spain's Sergio Ramos fights for the ball against Australia's Matthew Leckie. Photo: Reuters
Meanwhile Villa, who had been playing mainly on the left but drifting centrally, ran unchallenged into the penalty area; by the time centre back Alex Wilkinson saw Villa the ball was at the striker's feet but rather than take a touch, control and shoot, he deftly flicked it through his legs first time to beat Ryan.
It was a goal from Spain's vintage past, much lamented here by football purists and the nation's media, and signalled a period which, after a shaky start, they had begun to get on top.
Australia began brightly enough, their in your face approach and commitment to hustling and putting pressure on in midfield succeeding for a short time in unsettling the Spanish, who played some uncharacteristiclly sloppy balls.
World Cup 2014: Australia v Spain highlights
Australia's Oliver Bozanic jumps for the ball with Spain's Sergio Ramos (centre) and Raul Albiol (right) during their Group B match at the Baixada Arena in Curitiba. Photo: Reuters
But the Socceroos were unable to create much at all in the opening stanza, the absence of Tim Cahill's aerial threat and combativeness in forward areas clearly in evidence while too often they surrendered possession with ambitious long forward balls.
Matthew Leckie, who has looked so threatening in his two earlier matches, failed to get the ball down the channels as before, while Ollie Bozanic, in for Mark Bresciano, scurried and ran hard but failed to impose himself on a midfield in which he had to go toe to toe with Iniesta and Xabi Alonso, players of whose quality he would rarely, if ever, have faced. Tommy Oar also found it difficult to get space to create.
Spain began to get into their groove midway through the first half and Villa, soon to be an A-League guest with Melbourne City, threatened with some clever runs and slick passes.
Neither goalkeeper had been much troubled until Ryan was forced to save well from Jordi Alba after Fernando Torres and Villa had linked to set him up for the shot.
After a blunder against The Netherlands Ryan might have been shaken, but he showed his mental strength in this game, looking confident and comfortable , particularly when coming off his line to sweep up behind the defence.
Villa manufactured another opportunity when Ryan McGowan was caught upfield and Santi Cazorla fed a sweeping pass to the striker, who made space well with some delicate footwork but fired over a cross with which none of his team-mates coud make contact.
Ryan then saved well from a Koke drive after a quick free kick as the Spaniards took control in the final quarter hour before the interval.
A few set pieces aside Australia could fashion little in the way of opportunities, and it was hardly surprising when Postecoglou withdrew Adam Taggart, who had seen little of the ball, and reshuffled his strike force, moving Leckie and bringing on Ben Halloran to play on the right, the position he vacated.
Leckie put in his usual blue collar shift as Australia looked to get themselves back into the game, drifting to the left while Bozanic pushed forward. Oar, who picked up a knock in a challenge, made way for James Troisi as Leckie moved back to the point of the attack and Postecoglou tried to take advantage of Australia's speed and youthful vigour.
Spain captain Sergio Ramos drew a yellow card from Bahraini referee Nawaf Shukrallia for a clumsy challenge on Halloran as Australia, far from deterred by the challenge they faced, pressed on in search of a leveller.
Both Halloran and Troisi looked energetic and Australia almost unlocked the Spanish defence with some good combinations on the edge of the area. Matt McKay, who worked tirelessly in midfield, almost conjured something out of nothing with a looping volley from distance which just dipped over Pepe Reina's bar.
But Spain sealed the match with 20 minutes remaining, again courtesy of another wonderful Iniesta pass. Picking up the ball just outside the Australian ''D" he waited until Torres timed his run perfectly and split the defence, the rather forgotten Chelsea forward taking a touch before sliding a measured shot past Ryan's right hand.
Troisi long range drive over the bar showed Australia was still game, but in the final period of the match Spain carved out a number of chances, taking the critical one when Mata showed his class with a cool finish.