World Cup Blog: Chile send champions Spain crashing out
07:30 19 June 2014
Spain 0 Chile 2
All dynasties must come to an end, but few crumble in such spectacular fashion as Spain’s golden generation has in the past seven days.
After eight years of glory, La Roja saw their dreams of becoming the first nation to retain the title in 52 years crushed last night, as they became the second side to exit this year’s tournament.
Still reeling from Friday’s night 5-1 mauling at the hands of Holland, the champions looked a shadow of their former selves all evening.
Many were anticipating a much-changed starting 11, not least the potential dropping of keeper Iker Casillas to make way for Liverpool’s Pepe Reina.
Despite his poor performance in the recent re-run of the 2010 final, Vicente del Bosque stuck by his captain, making just two switches – Javi Martinez and Pedro coming in to replace Gerard Pique and Xavi.
Chile, spurred on by a sea of red covering much of Rio de Janeiro’s Maracana stadium, were fired up and Eduardo Vargas and Gonzalo Jara both came close with barely 80 seconds played.
The South Americans had so many fans desperate to watch their side, a number even burst in through a flimsy wall in the media centre pre-game, but who could blame them, had they known their country would play like they did.
A recent Chilean TV advert featuring the miners trapped underground in 2010 instructed the players that ‘anything is possible’, and that mentality was evident as a smart bit of skill from Vargas put Jorge Sampaoli’s men ahead 20 minutes in.
Alexis Sanchez and Charles Aránguiz capitalised on some sloppy Spanish passing down the right before finding Vargas in the box, beating a scrambling Casillas with an exquisite first touch before drilling home.
Even at a goal down Spain seemed unable to find any real urgency, despite being 50 minutes from tournament humiliation, and constantly found themselves swamped by the rushing Chilean midfield.
Aránguiz effectively put an end to the contest two minutes before the break when Casillias disastrously punched forward a Sanchez free-kick, only for the Barcelona striker to expertly toe-poke into the top corner, doubling Chile’s lead.
The double European champions almost clawed one back in the second half with Sergio Busquets very nearly punishing Claudio Bravo for a careless punch – similar in many ways to his opposite number’s mistake in the first half.
Diego Costa’s overhead kick across the face of goal found the Barcelona defender four yards out, but he spurned the timely chance to open his international account, shooting wide of the mark.
The result - Chile’s first victory over Spain in 11 attempts - means Spain become the fifth World Cup holders to crash at the group stage, following in the footsteps of Italy - who achieved the dubious feat twice - Brazil and France.
* Nick Wright will be watching England’s game against Uruguay tonight. Follow @London24Sport on Twitter and read his blog on this website tomorrow.