World Cup: Spain grab first 2014 World Cup win after beating Australia 3-0
By David Bowers - Follow me on Twitter @davidalexbowers
Last Updated: 24/06/14 8:55am
Spain secured their first win of the 2014 World Cup after easing to a comfortable 3-0 victory over Australia.
Goals from David Villa, Fernando Torres and Juan Mata in Curitiba ensured a third-place finish for Spain in Group B, while the Socceroos finish at the bottom with zero points.
Chances were few and far between in the first half, with Australia lacking a considerable attacking presence in the absence of their talismanic forward Tim Cahill, who was suspended for the game.
Spain took the lead after a neat move involving Andres Iniesta and Juanfran was finished off by an inventive flick from Villa, which beat a sprawling Matthew Ryan.
The game was most likely Villa’s last in a Spanish shirt, and the New York City player looked visibly upset after being substituted on the hour mark.
Vicente del Bosque’s side, who have never lost three World Cup group-stage games, doubled their lead on the 69th minute when Iniesta split the Socceroos’ backline to find Torres, who tucked away a confident finish.
Substitute Mata completed a comfortable win after slotting in a third with less than 10 minutes to go, securing victory over a tired Australian side.
With captain Xavi injured and Iker Casillas dropped, meaning both have certainly played in their last World Cup and probably their final international games too, Spain made seven changes in total.
That allowed Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina, who spent last season on loan at Napoli and is not wanted at Anfield, to make his World Cup debut nine years after his first appearance for the national side.
He was barely troubled as the tournament's lowest-ranked side failed to have any impact against the nation ranked number one before it all kicked off, after three successive major tournament triumphs.
But with the defending champions knowing they were heading home even before this encounter and many considering their long-term futures, there was a real lack of spark.
Midway through the first half, Villa sliced wide Iniesta's cross before his clever backheel teed up left-back Jordi Alba to fire straight at the goalkeeper.
That backheel was employed to more devastating effect in the 36th minute when Iniesta sent right-back Juanfran racing to the touchline and although his cut-back was slightly behind the unmarked striker, Villa diverted in the ball around his standing leg.
Atletico Madrid midfielder Koke, expected to be a key figure in Spain's future rebuilding, had a low long-range drive tipped wide by Ryan but it was one of the old-stagers who unlocked the Socceroos defence again.
Iniesta's through-ball split Australia's two centre-halves and Chelsea striker Torres - the man who began Spain's gold rush with the winner in the final of Euro 2008 - ran in from the left to slide home the second, before Mata converted from close range with eight minutes remaining.