Spain pounds Australia, 3-0
FIFA World Cup 2014: Spain vs. Australia preview, live commentary and recap.
So it wasn't a complete loss.
Spain finally looked like the side everyone had expected to see, routing an overmatched Australian team in the two sides' final match of the 2014 World Cup, 3-0.
In what was his final match as a member of the national team, David Villa opened the scoring in the first half, and Spain just wore down the Aussies from there. They added two more goals in the second half and missed on numerous other opportunities.
There were some nice moments for Australia, but, in general, they were far outclassed by a Spain side that won the 2010 World Cup and was expected to be a contender this year. It wasn't meant to be, however, as Spain had a disastrous opener against Holland and followed that with a loss to Chile.
Spain finishes third in Group B, ahead of Australia but behind the Netherlands and Chile.
FINAL: Spain 3 (Villa 36', Torres 69', Mata 82') - Australia 0
85' -- Torres looking for his second goal, but Ryan pounces on a bad touch in the box.
82' -- It's a goal party. Juan Mata nutmegs Maty Ryan for another Spain goal. It's basically a victory lap.
69' -- Goal, Fernando Torres. He doesn't even seem happy about it. Iniesta set him up with a perfect through ball.
65' -- Things are getting oddly chippy in this one. Spain seems frustrated the Aussies aren't just rolling over, it seems.
59' -- Matt McKay, channeling Tim Cahill, tries a volley from the top of the box, but it sails over the net.
56' -- David Villa comes off, likely for the last time in a Spain jersey. He gets something of an ovation.
54' -- Fernando Torres nearly has a chance, but he was offsides. This half has been really boring so far. The crowd is listless, at best.
46' -- Back at it here. Some light hand-fighting to start the half.
Halftime: Couple chances late for both sides but fruitless. Decent play throughout, though there have been some rough stretches. Can't really expect much from two teams playing for nothing, but it has been competitive and somewhat entertaining -- all you can ask, really.
37' -- Australia very nearly answers with a as Spain makes a mess of a clearance in front of goal.
36' -- GOAL Villa! It has been building to this, and Villa puts away a cross with a clever little backheel flick. He's been doing cool little foot tricks all game.
34' -- A great cross from Villa right in front of the net but no one able to get a touch, and it dribbles harmlessly away.
33' -- Not much action. Fernando Torres came of for like 30 seconds to change his shirt. But that wasn't very exciting, either.
23' -- Best chance of the day for Spain, as Torres pushes into the box, drops to Villa who delivers a perfect backheel to Jordi Alba...whose shot is stuffed.
21' -- Iniesta finds Villa deep in the box, but the latter was offsides. His volley missed badly anyway. Spain asserting itself the last several minutes.
18' -- Spain continuing to attack with Torres and Villa forward. But again, the game has been pretty dry so far.
12' -- Decent pressure from Spain but neither side able to test the opposing keeper early.
4' -- Good start for the Socceroos, dominating possession (surprisingly) and gathering a couple early chances.
1' -- We're underway. Young Australia against Spain's seasoned vets. A look to the future vs. a nod to the past. Should be...interesting.
11:45 a.m. ET: Alright folks, get settled in for a big bucket of meaningless. Australia and Spain have nothing to play for other than pride. Both sides lost their first two matches, so regardless of Monday's result they will be eliminated.
Here are the lineups, which, at least for Spain, is completely different than its first two matches. Included is David Villa, the World Cup hero of 2010, who will be making his final international appearance.
Australia: Mat Ryan, Ryan McGowan, Jason Davidson, Matthew Spiranovic, Alex Wilkinson, Matt McKay, Mile Jedinak, Oliver Bozanic, Tommy Oar, Matthew Leckie, Adam Taggart.
Spain: Pepe Reina, Sergio Ramos, Raul Albiol, Jordi Alba, Juanfran Torres, Koke, Xabi Alonso, Santi Cazorla, Andres Iniesta, Fernando Torres, David Villa.
Match Preview: And this one is for absolutely none of the marbles.
Australia, to no one's surprise will be playing a meaningless match in its third game in Group B. Defending World Cup champion Spain, to everyone's surprise, will be doing likewise.
Spain's Raul Albiol, though, dismissed the notion that his side wasn't planning to mail it in Monday. Here's what he told the Guardian in reference to this game being nothing more than an inconvenience:
"No, no way. When you are a footballer, what you want to do is play for Spain at a World Cup.
"The motivation is that this is a World Cup. We have to win. We don’t want to finish bottom of the group. We are representing a whole country and we have to give everything we have to win this match. So there is motivation.
"It’s a World Cup game, not a friendly in Vietnam. We have played in thousands of places for Spain and we have always given our very best. We have to give everything and I am sure we’ll have the desire to win and get three points. We have to stand up to be counted, to play well, and to finish well."
Fair enough, but it's still going to be a tough sell to a viewing audience. There really isn't much Spain can do here to make this a salvageable trip to Brazil. Just an outright disaster.
A somewhat different situation for the Australian side, which has played well in its first two matches. They'll be without striker Tim Cahill -- who had a wonder goal against the Netherlands -- but it can still serve as a glimpse into the future of Australian soccer.
But let's be honest: this is a game you can afford to miss.
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