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Adios Espana! Spain's World Cup reign ended by 2-0 loss to Chile

Published:Thursday | June 19, 2014 | 12:00 AM
(From left) Spain's Sergio Busquets, Santi Cazorla and David Silva leave the pitch after the group B World Cup match against Chile at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, yesterday. Spain was eliminated from the World Cup with a 2-0 loss to Chile. - AP


Defending champions Spain, the dominant global football power for the past six years, were eliminated from World Cup contention yesterday with a 2-0 loss to Chile.

Spain's famed passing game failed against a high-tempo, tenacious Chile team, their era ending in the storeyed Maracana Stadium filled mostly with noisy Chilean supporters.

Eduardo Vargas tricked goalkeeper Iker Casillas into diving the wrong way, then shot into an unguarded goal in the 20th minute. Charles Aranguiz scored in the 43rd when the ball landed at his feet after Casillas punched out a free-kick.

"I only ask fans for forgiveness, we did everything we could," said Casillas, who lifted the World Cup trophy four years ago.

Spain's second loss, after a 5-1 rout by The Netherlands, ended any hope of advancing. Chile and The Netherlands will both make it to the knockout stage, regardless of who wins the game between them on Monday, which will only decide the Group B winner.

Dismantling italy

Spain won the European Championship in 2008 and 2012, in addition to the 2010 World Cup.

Perhaps the Euro 2012 final was the footballing high point of the era: A 4-0 dismantling of Italy on a similarly balmy evening in Kiev, Ukraine.

Spain came to Brazil with a very similar - but older - team to the one that won those titles. They added Brazil-born striker Diego Costa, but he failed to score a goal and was substituted in both matches.

"We have no excuses," said Spain coach Vicente del Bosque. "We were too slow, timid from the start today. It's a sad day for all of the players. Time to think about the future."

Spain's 'tiki-taka' style of play - keeping the ball for long stretches with short passes and only shooting when there is a clear opening - had not been working as well in recent years. Brazil defeated Spain 3-0 in last summer's Confederations Cup, a warm-up for the World Cup.

The stars who had made the system go are still on the team, but they've clearly lost some speed and their connections haven't been as sharp. Barcelona midfielder Xavi Hernandez, who often delivered the key pass, didn't play yesterday.

Spain became the third straight European defending World Cup champion to flop in the group stage. France in 2002 and Italy four years ago also failed to advance, or even win a match.

Asked if the loss marked the end of an era, Casillas said: "We'll focus on the good things this team did."