Spain eliminated from 2014 World Cup as Chile cruises to 2-0 victory

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If following the 5-1 drubbing by Holland there was any doubt that Spain’s tiki-taka had died, those questions were erased on Wednesday when Chile comprehensively defeated the 2010 World Cup champions, 2-0.

With a goal and an assist to his name Charles Aranzguiz led the Chileans on paper but it really was a team effort from La Roja that dismantled Spain. Things got started in the 15th minute when Diego Costa dribbled his way into the box only to mishit his shot low and wide of the far post. Andres Iniesta collected it and served it back in the mix where Xabi Alonso emerged unmarked only for his point-blank shot to be well saved by Claudio Bravo.

Five minutes later and the high press of Chile paid off. Xabi Alonso picked up Claudio Bravo’s clearance to midfield but his back-pass was intercepted by Alexis Sanchez, who quickly found Arturo Vidal on the one-two pass. Sanchez then brilliantly split the Spain defense to find Charles Aranzguiz, who cut a pass to the back post for Eduardo VargasIker Casillas challenged, Vargas pivoted to the right and dispatched low to score from 6 yards out. 1-0 Chile.

With Spain controlling possession things went back and forth for the next 20 minutes before Chile were awarded a free-kick 25 yards outside of Spain’s box. Sanchez stepped up and unleashed a swerving shot that was punched by Casillas into the middle of the box where Aranzguiz stood and hit a one-time, outside-of-the-foot stab that doubled Chile’s lead.

At halftime, Koke was introduced for Xabi Alonso and the Atletico Madrid immediately affected the match, intercepting a pass down the right side to find Iniesta who slipped a beautiful ball through Chile’s defense only for Diego Costa to once again flub his effort.

In the 52nd minute a Sergio Ramos free-kick was punched out by Bravo and the ball bounced to Costa to bicycle a cross to an unmarked Sergio Busquets, who missed an open goal from two yards out. Spain continued to press but had nothing to show for it and in the 64th minute Vincente del Bosque had seen enough of the out-of-sorts Diego Costa, who was taken off in favor of Fernando Torres.

Four minutes later and Chile nearly had a third as Vargas broke down the right side to find Eugenio Meno, who tore his shot wide of goal. A sliding Mauricio Isla found himself unmarked at the back bar but his shot skyrockted over the bar. Seven minutes later it was Sanchez dazzling through the Spanish box and making it all the way to the by-line but his pull-back was unable to find Gutierrez or Isla.

Despite sloppy play and looking a shell of their former selves, Spain continued to press forward with substitute Santi Cazorla, on for Pedro, ripping a left-footed effort inches wide from 20 yards out. With five minutes remaining a flurry of decent chances ensued for Del Bosque’s men including a Cazorla free-kick that Bravo did well to push wide and a Sergio Ramos flailing side-volley that flew over the bar. In the extra time it was Ramos again who found himself on the end of a good opportunity only for the Chilean defense to block wide.

Spain continued to poke and prod but the Chilean defense remained resilient and just like that, Spain were eliminated from the 2014 World Cup.

LINEUPS:

Spain – Casillas, Azpilicueta, Ramos, Javi Martínez, Alba; Busquets, Xabi Alonso (Koke 45′), Iniesta, Silva, Costa (Torres 64′), Pedro (Santi Cazorla 76′)

Chile -Bravo, Jara, Silva, Medel, Mena, Aránguiz (Felipe Gutierrez 64′), Díaz, Isla; Vargas (Valdivia ’85), Vidal, Sánchez

Goals: Vargas 20′; Aranzguiz 43′

 

Former Czech Republic defender Rajtoral kills himself

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PRAGUE (AP) Former Czech Republic defender Frantisek Rajtoral, who won the domestic league title four times before joining Turkish club Gaziantepspor, died on Sunday. He was 31.

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The Czech football federation said in a statement that Rajtoral had “committed suicide in Turkey.”

His agent Pavel Zika confirmed the player’s death, describing it as a “huge tragedy.”

Gaziantepspor announced Rajtoral’s death in a brief statement on its website.

Rajtoral played 14 international matches for the Czech Republic.

In the top Czech league, he won four titles with Viktoria Plzen and played in the group stage of the Champions League twice for the club. He moved to Hannover in the Bundesliga in 2014 for half of the season, on loan.

He left Viktoria Plzen last year to move to Turkey.

Bellerin wants to represent Spain U21s despite Wenger’s wishes

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Arsene Wenger has made it clear about Hector Bellerin representing Spain this summer but the Arsenal defender is prepared to go against his manager’s wishes if he is selected.

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The 22-year-old has said he hopes to play for Spain’s Under-21 side this summer during the 2017 European U-21 Championship but Wenger has been weary of Bellerin’s injury status and wants his fullback to maintain a clean bill of health throughout the offseason.

“I really want to play,” Bellerin told IBTimes. “Representing Spain is very important. If [Albert] Celades gives me the chance I’ll be there.

“Those are opinions of the managers. I have to keep working. The truth is that I had a difficult injury but I think that I am at 100% now and I’ll try to prove it when I get the chance.”

Bellerin signed a six-and-a-half year deal with the Gunners in November, where he has resided since coming up in the club’s academy. He has made 102 appearances for Wenger’s team in that span over all competitions.

Roma boosts bid for 2nd in Serie A by beating Pescara 4-1

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PESCARA, Italy (AP) Roma boosted its bid for second place in Serie A and automatic entry into the Champions League with a 4-1 win at Pescara, which was mathematically relegated on Monday.

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Roma moved four points clear of third-placed Napoli, which drew against Sassuolo 2-2 on Sunday. Third place in Serie A receives a Champions League playoff.

Pescara remained 15 points behind Empoli. There are only five matches left and Empoli has the better head-to-head record, which is the deciding factor if two teams finish level on points.

There were 48 goals in total in the 33rd round, matching the record set in October 1992.

Roma took control shortly before halftime, with Kevin Strootman breaking the deadlock after Stephan El Shaarawy unselfishly rolled the ball across the area.

Radja Nainggolan, who earlier hit the bar, doubled Roma’s lead two minutes later.

Mohamed Salah extended Roma’s advantage three minutes after the break and the winger doubled his tally on the hour following a swift counterattack.

Ahmad Benali got a consolation for Pescara and a Cristiano Biraghi free kick also hit the post for the home side.

Frank Yallop resigns as Phoenix Rising coach shortly after Drogba arrival

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The timing is a bit sudden and certainly leaves many questions up in the air, but Phoenix Rising will have to look for a new manager.

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On Monday, head coach Frank Yallop resigned from his position with the United Soccer League (USL) club less than one day after former Chelsea legend Didier Drogba joined the organization as a player-owner.

With Phoenix seen as one of several lower-level clubs with ambitions of making the leap to MLS over the coming seasons, Yallop’s departure is surely a shock to many.

According to ESPN FC, Rising lead owner Berke Bakay was quite surprised by Yallop’s decision to step down, as was Drogba.

“Didier was as surprised and disappointed as we were that Frank is unable to continue coaching our Club,” Bakay told ESPN FC. “But, we all respect his decision to put his family first.

“Didier’s focus will remain on improving our team as a player and assisting our MLS expansion team ownership group as a co-owner. Frank will be helping with our international search for a new head coach.”

Rick Schantz, the current Rising assistant coach, will head the team’s managerial duties for the interim while the club completes a full search for a new manager.