Australia 0 Spain 3: La Roja salvage some pride as they bow out with win
David Villa scores his 59th goal on his final appearance for the deposed champions
Dethroned champions Spain bowed out of the World Cup with a 3-0 win over Australia thanks to goals from David Villa, Fernando Torres and Juan Mata in Curitiba on Monday.
Villa, who is next set for a three-month spell in Australia with Melbourne City, became the fourth Spanish player to score in three World Cups when he backheeled home Juanfran’s cross for his 59th international goal in his 97th and final appearance for La Roja nine minutes before half-time.
“I have always had a lot of love for the national team and it has always been what I dreamed about,” said Villa.
“I would play until I am 55 but that is impossible and I have to be realistic,” added the 32-year-old.
WATCH: David Villa scores his 59th and final goal for Spain
Andres Iniesta then marked his 100th cap for his country with a lovely through ball for Torres to double Spain’s advantage on 69 minutes before Mata slotted home a third eight minutes from time.
Victory means Spain finished third in Group B behind Chile and group winners the Netherlands, whilst Australia slipped to a third consecutive defeat.
“The only thing I can say about the game is that we played a dignified match,” said Spain coach Vicente del Bosque.
WATCH: Fernando Torres scores Spain's second
Spain’s quest for a fourth successive major tournament victory was ended following reverses in their first two matches but they finished on a high note at the Arena da Baixada.
However, Del Bosque refused to say when he would take a definitive decision on whether he will stay on as coach for the Euro 2016 qualification campaign.
“I have been with the national team six years and throughout that time we have been the number one ranked side in the world.
“We have a group of players that have behaved and performed excellently. Now we have to lose with our heads held high and the future of the Spanish national team, as you saw today, is in good hands no matter who the coach is.”
Australia boss Ange Postecoglou was left to reflect on his side’s most disappointing display after encouraging performances against Chile and the Netherlands.
“Obviously it is a very disappointing way for us to finish the tournament.
“Full credit to Spain, they are a very good football side and after the first 10 or 15 minutes, when I thought we started well, they controlled the game.
“We looked a little tired. We have faced three world class opponents and particularly today we struggled.”
WATCH: Juan Mata scores Spain's third
The Aussies had started with the energy that had characterised their performances against Chile and the Netherlands, but without the suspended Tim Cahill lacked a threat in the final third.
Villa got his goal on 36 minutes with a lovely backheeled finish from Juanfran’s low cross to extend his record as Spain’s leading scorer of all time.
Del Bosque surprisingly replaced Villa with Mata just before the hour-mark, with the striker breaking down in tears as he took his place on the bench.
Australia’s hopes were killed off when Iniesta released Torres in behind the defence to coolly slot beyond Ryan into the far corner.
Mata rounded off the scoring eight minutes from time when he controlled Cesc Fabregas’s lofted pass and rolled the ball through the legs of the helpless Ryan.