After their opening game performance, a 1-0 defeat to a well-disciplined Switzerland side, Spain came through as Group H winners this evening after a 2-1 victory over Chile.
David Villa curled home a left-footed shot from distance after the Chilean goalkeeper, Claudio Bravo needlessly rushed out of his goal to tackle Fernando Torres who was heading towards the corner flag. This left Villa with an open goal from a long way out which he coolly took first time. Up to that point, halfway through the first half, Chile had been dominating in possession and looked the better side.
The first goal settled Spain down as they started to maintain possession better, and then they doubled their lead with a fine move that saw Andres Iniesta rolling the ball into the bottom corner of the goal. Marco Estrada was sent off for Chile in the process for a feint clip of Fernando Torres’ heels. The Liverpool player made the most of it, although Estrada had been fortunate to avoid a second yellow card only a few minutes before for a reckless challenge.
Rodrigo Millar’s deflected goal in the opening minute of the second half gave 10-man Chile a life line, but in the end it lead to the last 15 minutes of the game being played with no intentions of either scoring. Switzerland were drawing 0-0 with Honduras at the time and needing 2 goals to eliminate Chile. Spain were heading through as group winners and the game became a shorter version of West Germany’s 1-0 victory over Austria in 1982.
As group winners, Spain will face Portugal in round two after they played out a 0-0 draw with Brazil. Only the third game in which a South American side hasn’t won at this World Cup; Chile became the first to lose. Portugal have yet to concede at this World Cup (Uruguay the only other nation to match them) and had Eduardo to thank for two excellent saves. One from Nilmar in the first half, the other in stoppage time from Ramires’ deflected effort in stoppage time.
Brazil and Spain remain the bookmaker’s favourites for the World Cup, closely followed by Argentina. The Brazilians face Chile in round two having beat them 3-0 and 4-2 in qualifying. Chile also have 3 players suspended for that match.
As for betting, Honduras’ point means I missed out on correctly picking them to finish with 0 points. Backing Spain was my biggest winner of the day.