Aussies outclassed by Spaniards
24 June 2014
FOOTBALL: Australia signed off from the World Cup with a 3-0 loss to a classy Spain thanks to goals from 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.
Spain 3 (Villa 36, Torres 69, Mata 82)
Superb Aussies lose to Dutch
In the two sides' second group stage game at the World Cup, a first half goal to Arjen Robben was cancelled out by Tim Cahill’s extraordinary strike 60 seconds later. His volley set to go down in Australian sporting history, though it was soured by a yellow card that sees Cahill miss the final group game against Spain.
Mile Jedinak’s penalty in the second half put the Aussies 2-1 up before Robin van Persie smashed home a brilliant goal to equalise and substitute Memphis Depay grabbed a third for Holland later in the second half.
In perfect conditions at Estadio Beira-Rio in Porto Alegre, the first half began positively for Australia with a clearly more confident start than the Chile opener five days earlier.
The first real opportunity came after 15 minutes with Matt Leckie picking up a loose pass inside the Dutch half to push forward and set up Mark Bresciano whose subsequent shot was deflected for a corner.
The Dutch created their first good chance from an Aussie turnover but Wesley Sneijder’s ball through was too heavy for Robben.
It was a warning and a minute later Robben profited from a cheap turnover, broke on the counter, powered through to the box and slotted home past a trailing leg and under Mat Ryan.
But within seconds Tim Cahill scored what could be a goal of the tournament with an unbelievable strike.
McGowan’s long angled cross found the Socceroo talisman in the box and his first time volley - while moving away from the ball as it came over his shoulder - rocketed in off the underside of the bar and in.
It was without doubt the greatest ever Socceroo goal at World Cup level as the fans erupted in the stands and back home.
And it could’ve been 2-1 with a great opportunity opened up by Leckie’s cut back but Bresciano powered over the bar.
As the Aussies continued to press, Spiranovic then found himself with space in the box from a set piece but scuffed a golden opportunity to double the score.
Oar was put through for another chance but his shot was blocked in the box as the Australians grew in confidence.
A yellow for Cahill with a late challenge just on half-time meant he will miss the Spain game – one of the few low points in a stunning first half for the Socceroos who went into the break 1-1.
The Dutch moved to a 4-3-3 in the second half as they turned the screws.
Van Persie was soon in the book will miss the final group game against Chile.
Sneijder’s long range shot went close as the game changed in Holland’s favour.
But the Aussies showed they still meant business.
The influential Bresciano was subbed off for Oliver Bozanic on 50 minutes and it had immediate effects with the Lucern FC man winning a penalty for a handball.
Mile Jedinak stepped up and coolly sent the keeper the wrong way to make it 2-1.
And it could’ve been 3-1 with shambolic Dutch defending resulting in a turnover but Cahill’s dink through was just too over hit and McKay’s was forced too wide to cause any danger.
Australia would rue that chance with van Persie finding space in the box just minutes later to smash home a superb equaliser.
It was end-to-end stuff in one of the best games at the World Cup.
More terrible defending from Holland in the box and Oar had an excellent chance to score.
Inexplicably, he chose to cross in the box when he should have shot and the Dutch survived somehow.
Again the Socceroos were made to pay minutes later with Depay’s swerving shot deceiving Ryan in goal to put the Dutch in the lead 3-2 with around 20 minutes left.
Desperate defending kept Holland out moments later as the Oranje powered home with a glut of chances.
Ryan was down brilliantly to keep out a de Jong effort with the Australians under pressure in the final stages of the game.
Hyundai A-League golden boot Adam Taggart came on for Oar as the Socceroos looked to press for an equaliser in the final stages of a pulsating contest.
Fatigue set in but the Australians continued to push against a Holland side looking to hold on to their slim advantage.
Ryan saved a certain fourth goal in time added on to deny the Dutch in a frantic finish.
But it was too late. The Australians lost but won many admirers with a stunning display of courage and style.
Holland 3 (Robben 20, van Persie 57, 68 Depay)
Australia 2 (Cahill 21, Jedinak 54)
Gutsy Aussies go down to Chile
The Socceroos recovered from a disastrous start to push Chile to the limit with a brilliant comeback but it wasn’t quite enough going down 3-1 to the Chileans in Cuiaba.
Goals to Alexis Sanchez, Jorge Valdivia in the opening 15 minutes had Chile in the ascendancy before Cahill got the Socceroos back into the game with a perfect header shortly before the break.
The Socceroos powered through the second half dominating their more fancied opponent pushing for the equaliser but could not find a way past the Chilean keeper.
In time added on, with the game stretched and Australia pushing forward, Jean Beausejour powered home a third goal to finish off the match.
It was a Socceroo display that showed great courage with Cahill superb leading the line up-front.
But there were heroes across the park with younger Socceroos stepping up against a very good Chile.
In bad news, however, Ivan Franjic came off injured early in the second half with what’s thought to be a hamstring injury.
It was a cagey opening few minutes with Chile looking to exploit Australia down the flanks before the game exploded into life.
Sanchez profited from poor defensive work in the box found the ball and he slid home the opener on 12 minutes.
And before the Socceroos could catch their breath, slick lead up play and Valdivia found too much space to curl home goal number two from just inside the box.
Australia was under huge pressure against a rampant Chile as the game looked to be slipping away.
But the Socceroos steadied after the frenetic opening stanza and got back in the match.
Franjic won the ball high up the pitch and from his resulting cross Cahill hung in the air brilliantly to power home his header.
The Socceroo talisman has now scored at the last three World Cups. The goal had the Australian fans on their feet and the Socceroos back in the game.
However, Cahill’s yellow card for an incident in the box the only sour point to a good end to the half.
It ended 2-1 at the break with the game’s momentum swinging towards Australia.
Franjic picked up a knock in the opening minutes of the second half and his game was over forcing a reshuffle with Ryan McGowan coming on for Australia at right back.
And shortly after, Cahill had the ball in the net with a low header but it was judged offside as the game opened up.
The Aussies were on fire with Bresciano’s brilliant effort pushed wide by Chile’s keeper Bravo following yet another good cross from wide left.
Chile should’ve scored a third when Vargas dinked the ball past Ryan but Wilkinson cleared the ball off the line before Leckie’s brilliant ball set up Bresciano and his low shot flashed wide Chile’s post.
The game really opened up after the hour mark with Leckie going on a brilliant solo run that ended in the box but a tame shot had the Chileans off the hook.
Halloran came on for Oar with 23 minutes left as the Socceroos looked to exploit their pace wide.
Cahill again should’ve score with yet another brilliant header from a pin-point Davidson cross as the Socceroos maintained their dominance.
Spiranovic cleared a dangerous low cross with the game end-to-end as the brilliant Bresciano made way for James Troisi in the final stages of the match.
Cahill had a penalty shout in the final few minutes as the Aussie pushed hard with both sides clearly exhausted in the humidity of Cuiaba.
But Chile found space in the box in time added on and after a brilliant stop from Ryan, Beausejour powered home to finish off the brave Aussies.
Chile 3 Sanchez 12', Valdivia 14', Beausejour 92'
Australia 1 Cahill 35'