David Villa brought the curtain down on a glorious international career by scoring a wonder goal that helped Spain end a forgettable FIFA World Cup™ campaign with a 3-0 win over Australia in Curitiba. The 32-year-old had announced before the tournament that he will quit international football following Brazil 2014. Fernando Torres and Juan Mata were also on target to ensure Vicente Del Bosque’s men finished third in Group B, leaving Ange Postecoglou’s Socceroos bottom.
A match in which both sides had nothing but pride to play for began at a leisurely pace, and it took until the 23rd minute for the first chance to arrive. Jordi Alba was the man afforded it, in space inside the Australian area following a neat flick from Villa, but Maty Ryan dived to his left to repel the little wingback’s strike.
The contest really came to life after the half-hour. Villa collected possession down the left, puzzled Mile Jedinak with step-overs, and squared the ball across goal, only for it to run between Santi Cazorla and Fernando Torres and away from danger.
Villa’s end product didn’t, however, let him down moments later. Andres Iniesta slid a sumptuous pass behind the Socceroos defence for Juanfran to run on to. Rather than rush his cross, the Atletico Madrid right-back looked up, spotted Villa unmarked, and cleverly cut the ball towards him. Spain’s record marksman let it run through his legs before extravagantly flicking it past Ryan and into the back of the net with his right heel.
The second half started at a quicker pace than the first had, but the sides struggled to carve out a meaningful opportunity until the 69th minute. That was when Iniesta uncorked the Aussie backline with one of his patented through-balls, and Torres took it in his stride and slotted past Ryan for his first World Cup goal since Germany 2006.
Mark Bresciano, the 34-year-old Socceroos icon who was deemed unfit to start, got a great reception when he came on for what will surely be his last World Cup game, but it was the Roja fans who were cheering on 82 minutes. Cesc Fabregas chipped the ball into Mata, who, from an acute angle, nutmegged Ryan to make it 3-0.
Spain had done what Del Bosque had demanded: responded in style following two shocking upsets. Their all-time record marksman, the man whose magic inspired them to glory at South Africa 2010, had made a memorable farewell: with his 59th and arguably classiest international goal.