Spain salvaged a modicum of pride from their woeful FIFA World Cup defence by beating Australia 3-0 in Curitiba on Monday.
Vicente del Bosque’s men headed into their final group fixture knowing they could no longer reach the knockout stages following defeats to the Netherlands and Chile.
However, goals from David Villa, on his last international appearance, Fernando Torres and substitute Juan Mata ensured Spain at least signed off from the competition with victory, and avoided finishing bottom of Group B.
Spain’s famous tiki-taka style has been derided in some quarters following their elimination, while there is also doubt over the future of Del Bosque.
The defending champions were far from their fluent best on this occasion, but still did enough to earn an ultimately comfortable win.
After a slow opening, Spain turned up the tempo and Villa broke the deadlock nine minutes before the break with an improvised flick from close range, giving Australian fans a timely reminder of his talent ahead of his upcoming loan spell in the A-League with Melbourne City.
The impressive Andres Iniesta, collecting his 100th cap, then set up Torres for a second in the 69th minute, before Mata – Villa’s replacement – rounded off the scoring late on.
Spain will still leave Brazil knowing they have much to ponder, while Australia can move forward with optimism after drawing plaudits for their plucky performances throughout the tournament.