Either Cristiano Ronaldo or his Real Madrid mates on the Spanish team will stay in the competition beyond Tuesday. His new club coach Jose Mourinho will be praying that Ronaldo doesn't burn bridges the way he did in Germany four years ago. Then, Ronaldo was visibly pleased at Man United teammate Wayne Rooney's misery in Gelsenkirchen and all hell broke loose.
There was a sameness to the different manner in which Spain and Portugal advanced to the round of 16 on Friday. A tame draw with Brazil sufficed for Portugal, and, after first-half sucker punches took Spain to victory, most of second half against Chile here was staid.
Chile played with 10 men for 53 minutes after Marco Estrada saw his second yellow card for an unnecessary foul on Fernando Torres even as the cameras focused on the Spanish celebration of Andres Iniesta's goal. Villa's audacious left-foot volley had fetched the first.
“I think the players instinctively reacted to the situation, though I think we could have got the equaliser," said Chile coach Marcelo Bielsa explaining the tepid end to a match that had the ball fizzing around the Loftus Versfeld Stadium at the start.
“Qualification was the most important thing and as news came in that it was getting more and more uphill for Switzerland, we tried to ensure that we don't take in any more goals,” said Chile's Argentine coach.
Inside the technical area, Bielsa, 54, seems like someone still spirited enough to get out there. He goes for short walks, yells and often crouches with his back to the supporting pole. For a man with such energy, he spoke softly at the post-match press conference, never making eye-contact with the questioners.
Bielsa, when asked to comment on Brazil, their next opponents, said the five-time champions' history matters more than his opinion. “You can draw parallels with historical Brazil given their wingers, their midfield.”
“I am obviously very happy and we will make the best endeavour to continue as far as possible. I know it's difficult but I am thankful to the unconditional support of the people in Chile.”
He didn't make much of the loss because, till the sending off, the match was even. Mauricio Isla, Alexis Sanchez and Estrada linked well before Iker Casillas denied them and then tipped over a Sanchez effort.
Chile were defending up the park and that led to the first goal. A long ball had Fernando Torres in the clear forcing goalie Claudio Bravo to leave his line and clear the ball. It reached Villa whose first-timer from 35 yards swung into an empty goal. Bielsa made a double substitution at half-time and one of them, Rodrigo Millar, got the reducer with a chip that took a deflection.
To control the midfield, Spain got on Cesc Fabregas and it worked and, for most of the second half. “We were very disturbed after the loss against Switzerland. Portugal will be very difficult opponents. They looked dangerous on the break against Brazil,” said Spain coach Vicente del Bosque.