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Spain Diego Costa (left), and Chile’s Gary Medel challenge for the ball during the Group B World Cup soccer match between Spain and Chile at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on June 18. (AP)
NETHERLANDS AND CHILE MOVE INTO 2nd ROUND Spain crash out of World Cup

RIO DE JANEIRO, June 18, (AFP): Defending champions Spain slumped to a 2-0 defeat to Chile and crashed out of the World Cup on Wednesday after their second defeat in five days. Chile’s victory — through goals from Eduardo Vargas and Charles Arranguiz — made the South Americans and the Netherlands the first teams to go through to the second round. After a golden era that saw them win the European Championships in 2008 and 2012 and the World Cup in 2010, Spain have suffered a dramatic fall from grace. They equalled Italy’s unwanted record in 1950 of being booted out of the World Cup after just two games. It was Chile’s first win over the Spanish in 11 meetings. Spain’s confidence seemed to have evaporated after their 5-1 defeat to the Netherlands in their first Group B game on Friday.

Coach Vicente del Bosque dropped established stars Gerard Pique and Xavi Hernandez but it had no impact in the charged atmosphere of Rio de Janeiro’s Maracana stadium. Chile pressed forward from the start. Vargas’ shot in the second minute was narrowly deflected wide of the goal by a defender. Spain also pushed up, but errors soon proved costly. Xabi Alonso gave the ball away in the 20th minute and the ball reached Arranguiz in the penalty area who slipped it inside to Vargas who smashed the ball past Spain’s captain Iker Casillas, making a Spanish record 17th appearance in a World Cup finals match.
Spain’s defence was in disarray. The game carried on at a furious pace as the defending champions sought a way back into the game.

But in the 43rd minute, Casillas clumsily punched away a free kick by Barcelona star Alexis Sanchez. The ball went straight to Arranguiz who struck it into the net. Meanwhile, a long-range strike by substitute Memphis Depay gave the Netherlands a 3-2 win over Australia in a thrilling World Cup Group B game but a brave, hard-charging Socceroos side had threatened to earn a famous victory. The game was marked by end-to-end action and spectacular goals — notably a stunning volley by Australia’s Tim Cahill which cancelled out a goal by the Netherlands’ Arjen Robben only a minute earlier. The match belied Australia’s status as underdogs and proved Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal’s warning that they would come out attacking to be correct. But in the end, the mighty Dutch, conquerors of holders Spain in their opening game, prevailed.

It was against the run of play when man-of-the-match Robben opened the scoring in the 20th minute. Picking up the ball on the halfway line, he charged towards the goal like a bull to a matador and slammed the ball past Mat Ryan. Tim Cahill replied immediately, however, by crashing a fantastic 20-metre volley into the roof of the net for what will be a strong contender for goal of the tournament. “It just felt so right to hit it and I hit it sweetly...This is what it’s all about because everyone dreams of playing on this stage and I want to leave a mark for all the kids back in Australia and around the world to be inspired by this today,” Cahill said. After that the pace stepped up as the Dutch tried to get more wind in their sails but it was the Australians who looked more threatening.

Mark Bresciano missed a good chance in the 30th minutes when good work by Matthew Leckie set him up only for him to blast wide. Nine minutes into the second half, Australia were awarded a penalty after Oliver Bozanic hammered the ball straight at Daryl Janmaat’s arm. Socceroos captain Mile Jedinak cooly slotted the penalty passed Jasper Cillissen, giving Australia a 2-1 lead and the chance to dream. But this time it was the Netherlands’ turn to strike back quickly. In the 58th minute Robin Van Persie banged in a well-controlled shot inside the penalty area. Memphis Depay whacked in what proved to be the winner with a long-range shot 10 minutes later, sealing the game for the Netherlands. Cahill got a yellow card for clattering into Bruno Martins Indi just before halftime so will miss Australia’s final group game against Spain. Dutch striker Robin van Persie will also be suspended for his team’s final group game after picking up a yellow card.
 

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