Coming into the 2014 World Cup, Chile and Spain were two teams most people agreed could make a serious run at the championship. But after facing each other this afternoon, Chile's 2-0 victory earned the country a place in the knockout round and brought Spain's dream of back-to-back titles to an early end.
"I’m very happy with the effort the players put in," Chile coach Jorge Sampaoli said. "We worked very hard on how we might beat Spain and we managed it."
Eduardo Vargas opened the scoring in the 20th minute with some fancy footwork that fooled Spain's goaltender Iker Casillas. Charles Aranguiz added a second goal in the 43rd minute.
As time ticked off, Spain played an increasingly desperate game while Chile kept pressing the attack. The defending World Cup champs tried to match Chile's offense, but only got as close as hitting the outside of the net.
“I would have never, ever thought that we would leave the tournament after the first round,” Spain's coach Vicente del Bosque said. “We started sluggishly and were not brave enough, really. It’s a pity because I didn’t expect that.”
Up to recently, Spain was a football powerhouse, winning the 2010 World Cup and the 2012 European Championship and coming in second in the 2013 Confederations Cup. (Spain lost to Brazil in the final.) But in this tournament, Spain short circuited. The team was outscored 7-1 in its two World Cup games, including a 5-1 blowout loss to the Netherlands in its first game.
Spain has one more game on the schedule. The Spaniards meet Australia in the final game of group play on Monday. But with both teams out of contention (the Aussies were bounced after losing to the Dutch today), the match is basically meaningless.
Still, Spain could score early and often on Australia and leave Brazil with an ego-saving victory.
For Chile, there's something bigger on the line in their next match. They meet the Netherlands on Monday to determine who wins Group B.
There's more about Spain's fall from football's peak on Sports Illustrated's Planet Futbol website.
For more World Cup coverage, check out SI Kids' Guide to the 2014 World Cup!
Photos: Jamie Squire/Getty Images, Shaun Botterill - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images