2010 FIFA World Cup Report: Spain Top Group H, Beat Chile 2-1

Alan McGuinnessSenior Analyst IJune 25, 2010

PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 25:  David Villa of Spain celebrates scoring the opening goal with team mate Xavi Hernandez during the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Group H match between Chile and Spain at Loftus Versfeld Stadium on June 25, 2010 in Tshwane/Pretoria, South Africa.  (Photo by Phil Cole/Getty Images)
Phil Cole/Getty Images

Spain finished atop Group H - and set up a second round meeting with neighbours Portugal - courtesy of a 2-1 win over Chile in Pretoria.

First half goals from David Villa and Andres Iniesta gave the European champions a comfortable lead, which was reduced by Rodrigo Millar’s deflected effort.

The South Americans made the brighter start, and observers could be forgiven for thinking Spain were playing in their usual red instead of their dark change strip, such was the neatness and fluidity of their opponent's play.

Mark Gonzales and Alexis Sanchez both tried their luck early on, as Chile began to make a mark on the game.

They also made a mark on the Spanish players. 

Three Chileans were booked in the first 25 minutes. Gary Medel and Waldo Ponce earned yellow cards that rule them out of their side’s last 16 clash with Brazil. 

Marco Estrada joined his teammates soon after, and then a moment of madness from goalkeeper Claudio Bravo put to waste all of his team’s early good work.

The stopper came charging out to clear a long ball over the top aimed for Fernando Torres, but instead knocked the ball to David Villa, who hit a curling first time effort into the net.

It was a barely deserved lead.

Jean Beausejour nearly leveled the scores when he was sent through down the left wing. Gerard Pique raced back to deflect the ball behind for a corner.

Andres Iniesta doubled Spain’s advantage eight minutes before half time, stroking the ball past the keeper from Villa’s pass. Controversy ensued as the Barcelona midfielder celebrated his goal.

Estrada was shown a second yellow card for tripping Torres in the build up to the goal. The offence appeared accidental, but Chile did themselves no favours with their overly physical approach to the game. Indeed, Estrada could have been sent off even earlier in the match on Iniesta.

Spain’s hopes for a comfortable second period were scotched just two minutes in, as Rodrigo Millar - brought on at half time by manager Marcelo Biesla - fired in a shot that hit Pique and went past a stranded Iker Casillas.

With 2-1 records, both teams would go through. And as the game edged ever closer to the final whistle, the pace slowed considerably.

Cesc Fabregas replaced Torres before the hour and the Liverpool striker’s performance was emblematic of Spain as a whole. 

There were flashes of quality and skill, but there is still an inescapable feeling that we have yet to see the best of the talismanic Torres and this much fancied group of players.