By Andrew Cawthorne
Thrashed 5-1 by the Dutch in their opening game, Spain’s normally composed and incisive team again looked a spent force, allowing Chile to score twice in the first half then hold firm for a totally deserved, glorious win.
“It is difficult to explain,” bemoaned Spain captain and goalkeeper Iker Casillas, who was at fault on both goals and is likely to be among an old guard jettisoned for fresh faces.
“We ask people’s forgiveness. We are responsible but also the first ones to feel the pain.”
The undisputed kings of global football in the last six years, Spain won the 2008 and 2012 European Championships and their first World Cup in South Africa. But their supremacy is no more and an aging team needs to be rebuilt.
Chile, who had not beaten Spain in 10 previous games, looked sharper and more aggressive from the start.
Eduardo Vargas turned Casillas and avoided lunging defender Sergio Ramos to score the first goal after 20 minutes, before Charles Aranguiz struck the second just before halftime, sending the red-clad hordes of South American fans delirious.
Seemingly perennial nearly-men the Netherlands, who have lost three World Cup finals including to Spain in 2010, continued their storming start to the tournament with a thrilling 3-2 victory over Australia.
In a fantastic end-to-end match in Porto Alegre, “Socceroos” veteran Tim Cahill smacked in a spectacular volley that should be a contender for goal of the World Cup.
“I want to leave a mark for all the kids back in Australia and around the world to be inspired,” he said.