Australia and Spain heading for home

03:03, Jun 24 2014
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HIGH FIVE: Robin van Persie of the Netherlands celebrates with head coach Louis van Gaal.
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Robin van Persie of the Netherlands lines up the ball prior to scoring his teams first goal.
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And he sends it off...
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Can it make it? Yes, yes it can.
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Spain's Xabi Alonso celebrates with teammates after scoring a penalty goal, the first of the match and their only one.
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Stefan de Vrij deflects the ball in for the Netherlands' third goal against Spain.
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Robin van Persie heads the ball to score against Spain.
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Jean Beausejour celebrates scoring Chile's third goal with Mauricio Pinilla.
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Chile beat the Socceroos 3-1.
Tim Cahill
Australian striker Tim Cahill remonstrates after having a goal disallowed against Chile.
Tim Cahill
Tim Cahill leaps above Gary Medel to head the ball past Chile goalkeeper Claudio Bravo.
Socceroos
Referee Noumandiez Doue sprays a temporary line for the Socceroos' wall to stay behind during a free kick.
Mark Bresciano
Australia's Mark Bresciano and Chile's Marcelo Diaz collide in Cuiaba.
Jean Beausejour
Jean Beausejour strikes Chile's final goal to secure a 3-1 victory over Australia.
Robin van Persie
Robin van Persie high-fives Daryl Janmaat after scoring the Netherlands' second goal.
Arjen Robben
Dutch midfielder Arjen Robben gestures to a TV camera after scoring his third goal at the World Cup.
Tim Cahill
Socceroos striker Tim Cahill celebrates after his volley goal that is a contender for goal of the tournament.
Mile Jedinak
Australian captain Mile Jedinak is somewhere under the pile after converting his spot kick for a 2-1 lead.
Memphis Depay
Australia's Ryan McGowan looks on in disappointment as Memphis Depay celebrates his match-winning goal with Robin van Persie.
Tim Cahill and Ron Vlaar
Tim Cahill (right) and Ron Vlaar battle for the ball.
Gary Medel
Gary Medel of Chile controls the ball against David Silva of Spain during their World Cup Group B match at Maracana in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Fernando Torres
Fernando Torres of Spain competes for the ball with Gary Medel (left), Marcelo Diaz (second left) and Francisco Silva of Chile (second right).
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Jose Pedro Fuenzalida, Felipe Gutierrez and Gary Medel of Chile celebrate a 2-0 victory over Spain in their Group B match at Maracana in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Sergio Ramos
Sergio Ramos of Spain looks on as teammate Jordi Alba fixes his boot during the World Cup Group B match at Maracana in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Mauricio Isla
Chile's Mauricio Isla, Eduardo Vargas, Arturo Vidal and Gonzalo Jara (left to right) celebrate after their first goal during their World Cup Group B football match against Spain at the Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Diego Costa
Spain's Sergio Ramos tries to hide his disappointment after a shock 2-0 loss to Chile during their World Cup Group B football match at the Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Stefan de Vrij
Stefan de Vrij of the Netherlands and Mauricio Pinilla of Chile compete for the ball during the Group B match between the Netherlands and Chile at Arena de Sao Paulo in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Arjen Robben
Arjen Robben of the Netherlands controls the ball as Gonzalo Jara of Chile gives chase during their World Cup clash in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Alexis Sanchez
Chile's Alexis Sanchez (right) argues with Dirk Kuyt (left) and Ron Vlaar of the Netherlands during their 2014 World Cup Group B football match.
Leroy Fer
Leroy Fer of the Netherlands celebrates after scoring a goal against Chile at the Corinthians arena in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Memphis Depay
Memphis Depay of the Netherlands (right) celebrates after scoring a goal with teammates Arjen Robben (centre) and Daley Blind during their 2014 World Cup Group B football match against Chile.
Ron Vlaar
Ron Vlaar (left) and Daley Blind of the Netherlands celebrate after defeating Chile after their 2014 World Cup Group B football match at the Corinthians arena in Sao Paulo.
David Villa
Spain striker David Villa scores past Australia goalkeeper Mathew Ryan during their Group B clash at the Baixada Arena in Curitiba.
David Villa
David Villa puts Spain 1-0 up against Australia with a neat back heel past Australia's Mathew Ryan.
Fernando Torres
Chelsea striker Fernando Torres scores Spain's second goal against the Socceroos.
Spain midfielder Juan Mata is tracked by Australia's Mark Bresciano.
Juan Mata slots Spain's third goal through the legs of Socceroos goalkeeper Mathew Ryan.

The early afternoon sun may have been shining in Curitiba, but for both Australia and Spain, the shadows of this World Cup had been cast long before a ball was kicked today.

For Australia, the shadows were small ones. Tipped to be humbled in all three Group B clashes, the Socceroos had already earned the respect of the footballing world with gutsy, and entertaining, defeats to both Chile and Holland.

But for the world champion Spanish, the darkness that began on the pitch in Salvador, where they were embarrassed 5-1 by Holland, will extend all the way back to their home country.

Jason Davidson
SAD FAREWELL: Jason Davidson of Australia acknowledges the fans after being defeated by Spain 3-0 at the World Cup this morning.

Manager Vincente del Bosque, once the saviour of Spanish football, will feel the axe, while the nucleus of the European giant's golden generation - Xavi, Iker Casillas and David Villa - will likely be put out to pasture.

That all made Spain's win over the Socceroos the most deflating 3-0 victory you're likely to see at a World Cup.

It had the touches of class - think Villa's sumptuous back heel to score Spain's opener, and Juanfran's consistently creative runs from the backline - but even a cartoonishly good performance in Curitiba would have been anti-climatic.

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Indeed: this year's version of the Spanish national football team are like that old vinyl of your favourite record.

One you've absolutely loved over the years - let's say a classic like Led Zeppelin II.

When you pull it out of the sleeve, all looks fine - but as soon as the needle hits the groove, you know something is off.

The record is scratched and skips repeatedly, with some songs completely missing and unable to be enjoyed. Plenty of 'Heartbreaker,' but no 'Ramble On.'

As much as you want to listen and reminisce about the good old days, the record is buggered. Time for a new one.

"This is the end of a six-year cycle for us," del Bosque, looking every inch the fallen king, admitted in a gloomy post-match press conference.

The Spanish manager provided the game's best image today - standing absolutely emotionless in the dugout as Juan Mata scored his side's third goal.

"There will be another champion," del Bosque said. "And they will lose one day too."

As for the Australians, today's effort was a shadow of what they produced in Porto Alegre against the Dutch, and for the majority of their opener against Chile in Cuiaba.

After those two fantastic encounters, the Socceroos looked drained of energy; managing to stay competitive for the first 15 minutes of today's much, before the tired limbs became abundantly apparent.

With talismanic veteran Tim Cahill out of the clash with a second yellow, it was like their heart had been scooped out too - with a distinct lack of verve and creativity throughout.

Not that that Australia should be ashamed, though. The Socceroos have carried themselves with an enviable composure and guts in Brazil, with young guns like Tommy Oar, Matt Leckie and keeper Mat Ryan - even though he let in a total of nine goals - likely to form the nucleus of a new era in the national side.

Shame the Australia fans, thought to number more than 15,000 in Brazil, didn't show the same level of class.

Footage of Aussie fans clashing with Brazilians at the Porto Alegre fan zone, jeering the locals after their 0-0 draw with Mexico, appeared on Brazilian television - while their boos of the A-League bound Villa, a true servant to the game of football, when he was subbed off in likely his final international, were downright embarrassing.

But any narrative coming out of Curitiba was already in the shade anyway, as far as the rest of Brazil was concerned.

The majority of the nation was crowded around televisions in homes and bars watching the Holland versus Chile game in Sao Paulo, and revelling in the excitement of two nations that could do a lot of damage later on in this World Cup.

The game in Curitiba, meanwhile, wasn't even being played live. Says it all for Spain, really.

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