CURITIBA, Brazil – Dethroned champions Spain bowed out of the World Cup with a 3-0 win over Australia thanks to goals from David Villa, Fernando Torres and Juan Mata in Curitiba on Monday.
Villa, who is next set for a three-month spell in Australia with Melbourne City, became the fourth Spanish player to score in three World Cups when he backheeled home Juanfran's cross for his 59th international goal in his 97th and final appearance for La Roja nine minutes before half-time.
"I have always had a lot of love for the national team and it has always been what I dreamed about," said Villa. "I would play until I am 55 but that is impossible and I have to be realistic," added the 32-year-old. Andres Iniesta then marked his 100th cap for his country with a lovely through ball for Torres to double Spain's advantage on 69 minutes before Mata slotted home a third eight minutes from time.
Victory means Spain finished third in Group B behind Chile and group winners the Netherlands, whilst Australia slipped to a third consecutive defeat. "The only thing I can say about the game is that we played a dignified match," said Spain coach Vicente del Bosque. However, Del Bosque refused to say when he would take a definitive decision on whether he will stay on as coach for the Euro 2016 qualification campaign.
"I have been with the national team six years and throughout that time we have been the number one ranked side in the world. "We have a group of players that have behaved and performed excellently. Now we have to lose with our heads held high and the future of the Spanish national team, as you saw today, is in good hands no matter who the coach is." Australia boss Ange Postecoglou was left to reflect on his side's most disappointing display after encouraging performances against Chile and the Netherlands.
"Obviously it is a very disappointing way for us to finish the tournament. Full credit to Spain, they are a very good football side and after the first 10 or 15 minutes, when I thought we started well, they controlled the game. "We looked a little tired. We have faced three world class opponents and particularly today we struggled." The Aussies had started with the energy that had characterised their performances against Chile and the Netherlands, but without the suspended Tim Cahill lacked a threat in the final third.
Mathew Leckie pulled a shot well wide for the Socceroos on five minutes but as the half developed Spain began to take control with Villa particularly prominent. The former Barcelona and Atletico Madrid striker first went close when his volley from Iniesta's pass at the far post skewed wide. Australia keeper Maty Ryan then had to beat away Jordi Alba's driven shot from a narrow angle before Villa very nearly set up the opener with a low cross that the late-arriving Koke and Torres just couldn't turn home.
Villa did finally get his goal on 36 minutes with a lovely backheeled finish from Juanfran's low cross to extend his record as Spain's leading scorer of all time. Koke came close to making it 2-0 before half-time when his long-range shot was tipped behind by Ryan. Del Bosque surprisingly replaced Villa with Mata just before the hour-mark, with the striker breaking down in tears as he took his place on the bench.
Matt McKay sent a dipping volley over the bar as Australia looked in vain for an equaliser that would deliver their first point of the tournament. However, their hopes were killed off when Iniesta released Torres in behind the Australia defence to coolly slot beyond Ryan into the far corner. Mata rounded off the scoring eight minutes from time when he controlled Cesc Fabregas's lofted pass and rolled the ball through the legs of the helpless Ryan.