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Shooting the Breeze: World Cup 2010 Day 15 - Group H Final Games

A stunning first half performance from Spain sealed their qualification to the knockout stage after two goals and a Chilean red card effectively ended their hopes of topping the group despite pulling a goal back to end the game 2-1. With an unlikely door to qualification opened for Switzerland they couldn't take their chance, finding it impossible to break down an obdurate Honduras.

The two best countries in the group qualified after an exciting first half of football.

Chile were their usual attacking self, but they had clearly been wound up for this game, adding plenty of bite all over the pitch as they sought to unsettle the Spanish.

Torres and Xavi spurned early chances for the Spanish despite superior possession for the Chileans. The referee had his busy moments too, with bookings for Gary Medel and Waldo Ponce ruling both of the out of Chile's next game.

Marco Estrada was also booked for another pointless challenge before Chile's goalkeeper committed a howler to gift Spain the lead in the 27th minute.

Claudio Bravo came out of his goal area to clear a ball but only succeeded in passing it to David Villa at halfway on the touchline. Villa immediately saw the open goal and proceeded to stroke a brilliantly weighted shot into the empty net.

The pressure was on for the Chileans but Spain's second goal after 37 minutes meant a single Swiss goal would put Chile out of the tournament.

Andres Iniesta's sidefooted finish made it 2-0 for the Spanish but there was controversy shortly afterwards after Marco Estrada was sent off for a second yellow card when he was deemed to have tripped up Fernando Torres in the buildup to the goal.

In truth, Estrada was already walking the disciplinary tightrope having escaped a bookable offence earlier. The 2-0 scoreline was harsh on Chile who had the majority of play in the first half and had tested the Spanish but couldn't find their shooting boots.

A quick restructuring at half time paid immediate dividends for the Chileans as substitute Rodrigo Millar pulled one back for the Chileans just a couple of minutes after the restart.

His effort took a big deflection off Gerard Pique and went past Iker Casillas to make it 2-1 and leave the Swiss needing to win 2-0 against Honduras to knock out Chile.

Chile's other substitute Esteban Paredes almost levelled the scores 2 minutes later but was ruled offside.

With an open, if scrappy, game between Honduras and Switzerland looking unikely to produce a single goal for the Swiss, never mind two, it was inevitable that their all-action display in the first half would begin to take their toll on the 10-man Chileans and the second half never managed to reach the heights of the first.

Marco Bielsa's side appeared to cut their losses and gamble on the Swiss being unable to score twice as they settled for what they had. They will be missing Gary Medel, Waldo Ponce and Marco Estrada for their showdown against Brazil while Spain will relish an Iberian derby against Portugal.


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