SYDNEY (24 June 2014) – The Socceroos have signed off from the World Cup with a 3-0 loss to a classy Spain thanks to goals from Hyundai A-League bound David Villa, Fernando Torres and Juan Mata.
It was a game that Australia started strongly but Spain worked their way into the contest with Villa’s first half back heel giving Vicente Del Bosque’s side a worthy half time lead.
Torres made it two in the second half after of a brilliant through ball from Andres Iniesta with Mata making it three late on.
After two eye-catching performances against Chile and Holland, the Socceroos were unable to find a way past the super Spaniards who rarely got out of second gear.
The Socceroos started with Adam Taggart up front for suspended Tim Cahill and Oliver Bozanic as the central playmaker in place of injured Mark Bresciano.
On a disappointing pitch that had many players struggling to keep their feet, the Socceroos started the first half in whirlwind fashion.
A low shot from distance by Matt Leckie whizzed past Pepe Reina’s goal as the Aussies sent a clear warning in the first five minutes with their energetic pressing.
Melbourne City bound David Villa was the main outlet for Spain down the left flank for Spain but it was the Socceroos dominating possession and playing at a higher intensity.
On 20 minutes, Spain’s first real chance saw Iniesta’s ball across the box finding Villa but his shot skewed wide.
Villa again found space outside the box for Jordi Alba to run on and smash a shot straight at Mat Ryan as the Spaniards began to find their feet on the Arena da Baixada surface.
The pace of the game slowed by the half hour mark which suited Spain and it was Villa again tormenting the Socceroo defence with a step over to find space but his low cross just failed to find Torres.
But it was no surprise that Villa would open the scoring.
Iniesta’s perfect ball split the Aussie defence on the left and Juanfran ran through, crossed from the byline for the legendary Spaniard on his own to back heel past Ryan to open the scoring.
Australia almost equalised straight from the kick-off but Spain cleared the danger with Taggart threatening.
It could’ve been 2-0 with Villa again the architect but Santi Cazorla’s pull back was intercepted by Alex Wilkinson.
A goal down at the break and there was plenty to ponder for Ange Postecoglou.
Changes were made though with Ben Halloran on for Taggart and Leckie moving to a central role for the second half.
Leckie’s pace gave the Aussies a half chance early but his lay off into the box for Oar failed to trouble Spain.
But the Utrecht striker hurt his knee in the process and was subbed off for James Troisi on the hour mark.
The Socceroos got back on top of the Spanish with Halloran asking a few questions of Jordi Alba down the Aussie right.
But with momentum shifting to the Socceroos it was the Spanish who easily opened up the Socceroo defence with Iniesta’s slide rule ball and Torres slid home past Ryan to make it 2-0.
Mark Bresciano’s arrival in place of Bozanic gave the Aussies an extra edge in the middle of the park but with Mata, Silva and Fabregas off the bench for Spain it was always going to be a difficult ask for the veteran.
Spain grabbed a third after Mata found space in behind off a Fabregas ball and the Manchester United man slotted home under Ryan.
The Socceroos looked fatigued in the final ten minutes after an energetic campaign that caught the eye of many.
David Silva should’ve made it four with a drive going wide of Ryan’s goal as the Spanish ended the game on top.
Jason Davidson’s last ditch tackle saved a fourth goal showing great determination but there would be no comeback from the brave Aussies.