Spain left the 2014 World Cup with a win, after goals from David Villa, Fernando Torres and Juan Mata ensured a 3-0 victory over Australia.
Vicente del Bosque made a host of changes for the dead-rubber in Curitiba, bringing in Pepe Reina, Juanfran, Raul Albiol and Villa for their first World Cup action of 2014, whilst the Socceroos named Adam Taggart and Matthew Leckie in attack with Tim Cahill out through suspension.
With the occasion essentially meaningless, it was perhaps no surprise to see that La Roja were subdued in the opening exchanges, sitting on their laurels and being forced back by the Oceania nation.
A couple crosses from either flanked forced Reina into action, but it was Leckie who had the first attempt after five minutes – firing wide from 25 yards.
Slowly though, the reigning champions started to dictate the tempo and get a foothold in the game. Andres Iniesta, on his 100th appearance, was looking to pull the strings in midfield, but some good defending and poor runs from Fernando Torres saw chances at a premium.
When one did come however, Villa was not up to the challenge. A cross from Iniesta on 20 minues found the New York City man, but his volley went well wide of the left-hand post.
Del Bosque’s side were in full control now, and were forcing Matthew Ryan into action on several occasions. Jordi Alba should have done better with a shot from inside the area, whilst one of Santi Cazorla and Torres should have tapped in a beautiful Villa cross.
Spain were getting closer and closer, and the deadlock was finally broken with 10 minutes of the half to play. A cross from Juanfran on the right was played in to Villa, and the former Atletico Madrid striker signed off his international career with a delightful back-heeled finish.
After the break, the Reds continued where they had left off – dominating the ball and creating a few openings at goal.
The biggest reaction of the half though, came on 57 minutes when Villa was brought off for Mata – bringing to an end his record-breaking international career, departing the pitch as his nation’s all-time top goalscorer.
After their initial burst in the first 15 minutes, it now looked like a completely different Australia. La Roja were really the only side threatening, but a case of overplaying crept in as Spain looked for the perfect goal.
It did come though, on 70 minutes. A through ball from Iniesta found Torres on the left-hand side of the area, and ‘El Nino’ looked like the player of old, bearing down on goal and sweeping a shot past the goalkeeper.
Ange Postecoglu’s men were shell-shocked, and it was soon worse. A cross from the left went to Mata at the far post, and the Manchester United man calmly tucked a shot between Ryan’s legs and into the back of the net.
It was merely consolation for Spain though, as they left the World Cup third in Group B.
Australia 0-3 Spain
Scorers: Villa 36 (S), Torres 70 (S), Mata 79 (S)
Australia: Ryan, McGowan, Davidson, Spiranovic, Wilkinson, Oar (Troisi 62), Bozanic, Jedinak, McKay, Leckie, Taggart (Halloran 45)
Spain: Reina; Juanfran, Albiol, Ramos, Alba; Alonso (Silva 84), Koke, Cazorla (Cesc 68); Iniesta, Torres, Villa (Mata 57)