Two weeks into South Africa 2010 and the opening phase concluded today with Spain, Chile and Portugal taking the remaining three places available in the last 16 but another African side slipping through the trapdoor.
European champions Spain avoided a potential banana skin in their Group H showdown with Chile, asserting their authority at just the right time with a 2-1 victory that took them above the South Americans and into first place, so setting up an exciting-looking Round of 16 encounter with their neighbours Portugal. Chile, who lost midfielder Marco Estrada to a first-half red card, had reason to celebrate at the final whistle too when the news came through from Bloemfontein that Switzerland had failed to beat Honduras. While Chile ensured the presence of five South American sides in the final 16 for the first time, for the Swiss, by contrast, the optimism engendered by their opening victory over Spain had faded and died. Indeed they might have lost the game to a Honduras side who collected their first FIFA World Cup point since 1982, and it is Chile who now advance to a last-16 contest with Brazil.
Earlier in the day, Dunga's Seleção were confirmed as Group H winners after a goalless draw with Portugal that also ensured a place in the Round of 16 for Cristiano Ronaldo and Co. Sadly for African football fans – if also predictably – that result also confirmed Côte d'Ivoire's elimination despite their 3-0 victory over Korea DPR. Les Elephants finished with as many points and twice as many goals as Ghana – the only team from the host continent still standing – but instead followed four other African sides in falling at the first hurdle.
Goal of the day
David Villa, Chile 0-1 Spain, 24 mins: He missed from the penalty spot against Honduras the other day but Villa struck from at least three times that distance to open the scoring against Chile. When Chile keeper Claudio Bravo beat Fernando Torres to a through-ball, the ball went only as far as Villa some five yards in from the left touchline and 40 yards from goal. Villa did not hesitate, returning it with one swipe of his left foot over the stranded goalkeeper and backtracking defender Gonzalo Jara to put Spain on the way to a crucial victory. The goals was his sixth for Spain at this competition, establishing him as La Roja's record scorer on the world stage.
One to remember
As their favourites signed off with a victory, Côte d'Ivoire's orange-clad followers, led by No1 fan 'Papa Elephant', bobbed and swayed in the stands at the Mbombela Stadium – and gave us one of the stranger pieces of fan choreography at one point by turning their backs to the action. Their hero, Didier Drogba, expressed his gratitude for their support at the finish, handing his shirt, captain's armband and boots to fans in the crowd.
Quote of the day
"For the next World Cup our players have to improve their individual abilities. They must become stronger mentally and physically. But it has laid the foundation for us to grow in the future," Korea DPR coach Kim Jong-Hun reflects on his side's third and final defeat following their return to the world stage after 44 years.
Stat of the day
1 – Number of goals Switzerland conceded in South Africa, meaning they have shipped just one in their last seven matches on the world stage. Unfortunately they only scored one too here, ensuring an early exit for Ottmar Hitzfeld's side.