Chile end Spain's reign at World Cup
RIO DE JANEIRO - Agence France-Presse
Chile's Charles Aranguiz celebrates scoring a goal during their 2014 World Cup Group B soccer match against Spain at the Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro, June 19. REUTERS PhotoSpain's six-year reign as the world's pre-eminent team ended on June 18 as Chile sent them crashing out of the World Cup with a 2-0 win in Rio de Janeiro.
Spain had been seeking a fourth consecutive major title, but instead they became only the fifth defending champions - after Italy in 1950 and 2010, Brazil in 1966 and France in 2002 -- to go out in the World Cup's first round.
First-half goals from Eduardo Vargas and Charles Aranguiz took Chile into the last 16 and saw Spain become the first team along with Australia to be eliminated from the 2014 tournament.
"It is a sad day for all of us," said Spain coach Vicente del Bosque. "We were too timid in the first half and did not react sufficiently in the second. The first goal really buoyed them and they really got into our faces.
"We are sorry we didn't succeed, (but) now is too early to analyse where we go from here." On the back of the 5-1 humiliation by Netherlands in their opening game, it proved a miserable return to the Maracana for Spain, who lost 3-0 to Brazil in last season's Confederations Cup final on their previous visit.
Del Bosque, architect of the 2010 World Cup and 2012 European Championship triumphs, reacted to the Dutch drubbing by dropping Gerard Pique and Xavi Hernandez, but his side looked every bit as ponderous.
Instead it was Jorge Sampaoli's effervescent Chile whose football caught the eye, with the intricate build-up to Vargas's opener a cruel echo of the 'tiki-taka' football with which Spain once ruled the world.
Chile coach 'proud'
"I am proud of the way we played to put out the world champions," said Sampaoli. "It was a great win over a great team." With Xabi Alonso and Iker Casillas at fault for each of the goals, it was a sad end for Spain's golden generation, but when the tears have dried, Spanish fans will be able to look back upon the greatest period in their nation's footballing history.
Chile will now contest top spot in Group B against the Netherlands, who have also qualified for the last 16, but for Spain all that awaits is a dead rubber against Australia in Curitiba on June 17.
While red was always going to be the predominant colour inside the Maracana, Spain's fans were vastly outnumbered, with some ticketless Chile supporters even storming the stadium media centre in an unsuccessful bid to force their way into the ground.
Chile's fans prolonged their national anthem by chanting a deafening a cappella chorus after the music had stopped and in the early stages, Spain were all at sea.
Within a minute, Alonso was obliged to nick the ball off Vargas's toes after Arturo Vidal had barged through, while an unmarked Gonzalo Jara headed narrowly wide from the subsequent corner.
Briefly, Spain rallied, Chile goalkeeper Claudio Bravo darting from his line to block from Alonso, but in the 20th minute the South Americans landed a sucker-punch at the other end.
Alonso conceded possession with a weak lay-off, but from them on it was all Chile's own work, with Alexis Sanchez sliding a pass through for Aranguiz, who centred for Vargas to skirt Casillas and prod home.
Alonso lashed a shot over and Diego Costa ruffled the side-netting as Spain sought a response, but there was no zip to their passing and in the 43rd minute, Chile added a second.
Sanchez's free-kick lacked power, but Casillas could only punch it as far as Aranguiz, who deftly brought the ball down and toe-poked home from 15 yards.
Del Bosque sent on Koke for Alonso at the interval and Spain improved, but Sergio Busquets could only shin Costa's overhead kick wide from five yards after Bravo had fisted a Sergio Ramos free-kick into the air.
Mauricio Isla spurned a chance to make it 3-0, sliding the ball over the bar from Eugenio Mena's cross-shot, while Spain's best chance at the other end saw Bravo palm a long-range curler from Andres Iniesta over the bar.