By RYAN TOLMICH
They say all good things must come to an end and, in the case of the 2010 World Cup champions, it ended more quickly and painfully than anyone could have predicted.
Spain’s reign of dominance has come to its end as La Roja were defeated 2-0 by Chile Wednesday at Estadio do Maracana in Rio de Jainero. The reigning champions now find themselves among the tournament’s early exits having been eliminated after just two games. Spain is also the first defending champion to be eliminated with one group stage match still remaining.
It took Chile just 19 minutes to open the scoring via Eduardo Vargas, whose surging run through the left side of the box was found by Charles Aranguiz from the opposite side. Aranguiz slid the ball to an open Vargas, who took a touch before firing past a helpless Iker Casillas.
Chile doubled La Roja’s misery in the 43rd minute by way of a rebound finish by Aranguiz. Alexis Sanchez’s free kick was parried back towards the penalty spot by the much-criticized Casillas. Aranguiz found himself right in the way of the Spaniard’s punch, and he made no mistake in doubling his country’s lead from close range.
It was an uncharacteristic performance once again from the Spaniards, who turned the ball over repeatedly despite the team’s tiki-taka philosophy that places so much emphasis on taking care of the ball.
On the defensive end, Aranguiz’s finish marked the seventh consecutive goal conceded by the Spaniards, who conceded five to the Netherlands last week following Xabi Alonso’s opener. La Roja only conceded twice in the entire 2010 World Cup.
Spain’s failure to score mathematically eliminates them in the group stage after scoring just a single a penalty kick in two matches.
With the victory, Chile confirms its place in the knockout stages, where it will join the Netherlands. The two qualifying teams will meet Monday to determine the group winner, while Spain will concurrently play their 2014 World Cup sendoff against Australia.