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World Cup 2014
 

Australia 0 Spain 3: Highlights, key battles, and what this result means

Published on Jun 24, 2014 2:28 AM
 
Spain's forward Fernando Torres scores his team's second goal during a Group B match between Australia and Spain at the Baixada Arena in Curitiba on June 23, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP

A dead tie like the one between Australia and Spain, with both sides already bound for home, is bound to be sombre. And it even seemed like it, with the world champions turning up in black kits as if to mourn the end of an era.

But a Tiki Taka funeral, it was not, even if this match probably has more than a few goodbyes in its line-up. The Spaniards - featuring sweeping changes in their starting line-ups - showed it could still be done with a 3-0 victory over the Socceroos.

They salvage some pride to finish third in Group B, although Australia can also lift their head up for three plucky performances.

Highlights

- Australia started brightly, showing initiative in pressing forward especially down the left flank through Tommy Oar, but quickly lose control of the game. Andres Iniesta, more his usual self today, finds Juanfran down the right, who delivers a low pass to a lonely David Villa in the box.
Villa, afforded space and time, scores with a clever backheel flick for the opener.

- The green and gold threatened to respond almost immediately - as they did against the Netherlands. Jordi Alba musters an uncertain clearance after a dangerous cross from Oar that was on its way to find Adam Taggart.

- Iniesta delivers a beautiful pass for Torres to run into inside the box, leaving the Australian back four no chance to get to it. Torres scores with his first on-target show after 123 World Cup minutes with a shot into the far post to beat goalkeeper Maty Ryan.

- The final goal for Spain was a product by the substitutes. Cesc Fabregas loops a floating ball over the Australian back four, finding Juan Mata who strokes it into the goal after nutmegging Ryan.

Key battles

Andres Iniesta v Mile Jedinak

Except for rare instances where Jedinak sneaked the ball away from his midfield counterpart, the battle in the middle was controlled by the Barcelona man.

Iniesta was largely the reason Spain got chance after chance up front, combining with Villa and Cazorla. Both the first and second goals were started by him.Jedinak's tiring legs, on the other hand, simply could not carry him.

Man of the Match

Juanfran

David Villa would be the sentimental choice here, and Andres Iniesta certainly made a difference to the result, but my pick goes to Juanfran.

Not only was the right-back able to deal with Tommy Oar's pacy runs down the flank, he also provided lots of sting and width up front with his accurate crosses and overlaps.

His performance makes one wonder if the campaign would have turned out starkly differently for Spain if he had played a part in the team's first two matches. 

What this result means

Not a whole lot, really. It was always a dead tie to begin with and the result simply means Spain avoid a greater embarrassment of finishing bottom of their group as world champions.

Both team head home, but with the Asian Cup held in Australia in 2015, the Socceroos should have valuable takeaways from this experience.