Chile, with "Guerrero" Arturo Vidal and Mauricio Isla, are the second national team after the Netherlands to qualify for the knockout stages, thanks to a convincing 2-0 win against defending champions Spain, coached by Vicente del Bosque.
In the majestic Estádio Maracanã in Rio de Janeiro, the two teams faced off in a quest for three big points to stay on track in their World Cup adventure. Spain, who were bottom of the Group B table after losing to the Netherlands, had to avoid defeat. But when faced with the energy and hunger of the Chileans they were able to muster very little. Instead, the team coached by Jorge Sampaoli further rammed home the idea that this is a South American World Cup and practically had things wrapped up in the first half.
Chile got off to a lightning start. Arturo and the Roja’s midfield pushed high and the strategy was clearly working. And on 20 minutes the first goal arrived, courtesy of Eduardo Vargas. Chile penetrated the Spanish rear guard with a series of quick passes and in the blink of an eye the Valencia forward was facing down Casillas: he made no mistake and coolly put the South Americans 1-0 up.
Just before half time Sampaoli’s boys found the killer goal that would break his side’s losing streak against the Furia Roja, which had lasted nearly 10 games. Sanchez curled a free kick over the wall that Casillas punched straight back into the centre of the box. Aránguiz pounced on the loose ball and the score was now 0-2, weighing on the Spanish psyche like an anvil.
There was still another half to play, but the result never changed. After the break Del Bosque’s team adopted a counter-attacking game and became more menacing. Yet the Chilean defence held fast and kept their opponents from creating any solid chances. On 68 minutes Isla nearly added a third after a darting run down the right.
The clock ticked down until the final whistle came, sounding the end of the road for a country that had been one of the top favourites coming into the competition (Spain hadn’t lost two consecutive matches since 2006).
Arturo Vidal earned his 56th cap by completing 38 passes, second only to Jara with 41. Mauricio Isla, in his sixth World Cup start, finished first in the ‘balls played’ category with 63, and won three balls in the Spanish half of the pitch – more than any other player on this evening at the Maracanã.