The Spaniards appear to have fully exorcised the ghosts of their first-round loss to the cuckoo-clock makers. As they walked over the Chileans in a confident manner, their supremacy was never in doubt. The match ended Spain 2, Chile 1.
Although they lacked any margin of error before the match started, the Spaniards appeared sure of themselves, and played a game befitting of the quality team they are. Their combinations are precise and bewildering to their opposition; their drilling of their opponent’s defences feels effortless and almost easy. Their game, similar to the Brazilians, is one of continuous attack and they wish to score more goals then their opposition rather than conceding less than the other side. Their goals were clever, cool shots that check-mated the badly-positioned keeper.
Spain is now set to play finals-before-finals against much-fancied Portugal in Cape Town on Tuesday. We have a feeling they should win that game. Their form is on the up and it appears they have finally forgotten the Swiss loss. David Villa is in a great form, and is being ably helped by the rest of the attack. And they will be able to field their best team, as they’ve rather unbelievably managed to play three World Cup games without getting a single yellow card.
Even if they were outclassed by Spain, Chile still deserve to qualify from Group H. They are far better team than Switzerland, which couldn’t defeat Honduras on Friday night. Switzerland are a good team, but their attack is simply not good enough. Their defence was really of world class quality and they are feisty and gritty, but Chile are simply a much better, more rounded team than the mountain people.
Just one last kick for Honduras as they exit: they join Algeria as the only two sides to exit the World Cup without scoring a single goal. We won’t miss them.
Here the reporter’s notes from the Spain vs Chile game.
Spain: Iker Casillas, Sergio Ramos, Gerard Pique, Puyol, Arbeloa, Xavi, Xabi Alonso, Busquets, Andres Iniesta Lujan, David Villa, Fernando Torres
Chile: Jorge Valdivia, Mauricio Isla, Marco Estrada Quinteros, Claudio Bravo Munoz, Gonzalo Jara Reyes, Arturo Vidal Pardo, Waldo Ponce, Gary Medel, Jean Beausejour Coliqueo, Mark Gonzalez Hoffman, Alexis Sanchez Barbe
Man of the match
Before the match
Spanish striker David Villa can consider himself lucky for not receiving a suspension after he slapped a Honduran player but was not punished by the referee. Fifa’s disciplinary commission decided there was no ground for opening the inquiry, which is rather surprising, because just about 1 billion people saw Villa’s offence.
It will be a tough match for both teams. The Chilean defence is yet to concede a goal at this World Cup, but then again, they haven’t yet played against an attacking force as powerful as Spain’s.
- 5th minute: First chance for Spain. Torres was denied a final shot at goal by a Chilean defender’s brave reaction.
Spain has spent most of the opening time in the Chilean half and they are plainly committed to attacking, which only makes sense because anything less than a win will see them crash out.
Mexican referee Marco Rodriguez warns Chilean goalkeeper Bravo about time wasting. Is it possible that Chile is thinking already about wanting a draw?
- 10th minute: Mark Gonzales misses an excellent chance as he slipped just as he was about to bury the ball in Casillas’s goal, unimpeded by the non-existent Spanish defence.
- 12th minute: Estrada’s long-range shot is comfortably stopped by Casillas.
- 14th minute: Sanchez makes a cheeky attempt at lobbing Casillas, which the goalkeeper manages to thwart, but only just. Brilliant from both players.
Great game from both sides. They play, compete and enjoy it. A great difference from terribly disappointing Brazil vs Portugal game.
- 19th First yellow card for Chile’s Ponce for attacking Torres’s right knee, exactly the one he just has had operated on. A cynical, professional foul. Ponce misses the next match.
- 21st minute: Another yellow card for the Chileans, this time for Estrada. From their side, positive players that they are, they Spaniards are yet to pick up a yellow card at this World Cup.
- 24th minute: Villa scores for Spain! Again! After Bravo’s sortie outside his box to stop Torres, the ball landed at Villa’s feet and he scores from 40 metres into the empty goal. Really, really clever and cool-headed.
- 28th minute: Free kick for Spain, from 30 metres or so; Villa shoots, but the ball lands somewhere on Pretoria’s streets.
- 34th minute: Gerrard Pique’s header from the corner kick flies above the crossbar.
- 35th minute: Pique saves Spain’s skin by deflecting Jean Beausejour’s shot that would have surely been a goal into the side netting. Casillas is a relieved man.
- 37th minute: Spain scores again! Sweet and wonderful, Iniesta caps a brilliant counter-attack by coolly slotting the shot into Bravo’s left corner. Bravo didn’t stand the chance. Spain leads 2-0.
To make things worse for Chile, Estrada gets a second yellow card, turned into a red card, after clipping Torres’s back heel in the same move that saw Spain’s second goal being scored. Bad times for Chile: they are two goals and one man down. Their mountain to climb just became very, very high. Almost impossibly high.
Photo: Fans wait for the start of a 2010 World Cup Group H match between Spain and Chile at Loftus Versfeld stadium in Pretoria June 25, 2010. REUTERS/Eddie Keogh
Since Spain’s second goal, the rhythm has slowed down considerably. Chile is probably looking for the safe haven of half time while Spain is also in need of rest after a thoroughly engaging and fighting half.
End of the first half.
Chile will need a miracle here. The way things are, their best bet is to hope that Honduras will somehow stop Switzerland, in the other Group H game, which at the time of this writing is still 0-0. But as we know, waiting for others to save you is never a good place to be.
- 47th minute Chile score! Millas’s shot from 18 metres was going far and wide when it hit Pique’s thigh and ended in the completely wrong-footed Casillas’s goal. Fluke or not, Chile is back into the game and we have a contest on our hands again.
- 52nd minute: Villa shoots from the left-hand side across the face of goal but Bravo picks up the ball confidently, even as the shot picked up a deflection.
- 56th minute: The game has slowed down somewhat, with most of the action around the central circle.
- 58th minute: Promising counter-attack by the Spaniards. That will probably be a pattern for the rest of the match. The Chileans will attack, while Spaniards will look to expose the resulting holes in their defences through counter-attacks. It does feel as if Spain is the side much more likely to score again.
- 63rd minute: Iniesta’s run creates havoc in Chile’s penalty box and it is a miracle they haven’t scored an own goal.
- 64th minute: Great defending by Chilean Isla to deny Villa’s stab into the box.
- 69th minute: Sergio Ramos’s curving, menacing cross into the box finds no one, to the Chileans’ great relief.
- 74th minute: The rhythm is down again. Martinez’s shot is deflected straight into Bravo’s welcoming hands.
- 76th minute: Iniesta’s shot is wild and, uhm, not exactly precise.
Chile are simply not threatening and will have problems creating any chances. They are either tired, or they are simply playing against a much better side. Your choice.
- 84th minute: The Spaniards are still attacking. Bless them and their positive approach.
- 88th minute: It appears that Chile have stopped worrying and learned to love the nuclear option. Maybe someone told them that the Cuckoo-clock makers failed to defeat the Hondurans. Maybe they just don’t care anymore, because it is difficult to imagine not attacking with poise if you’re on losing side.
- 91st minute: Spain are passing the ball in the centre circle for more than a minute. Nobody is attacking from Chilean side.
- 92nd minute: A very, very strange ending indeed.
By Branko Brkic
Photo: Spain’s Andres Iniesta celebrates after scoring against Chile during a 2010 World Cup Group H match at Loftus Versfeld stadium in Pretoria June 25, 2010. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi