BLOEMFONTEIN, June 25 – Spain coach Vicente del Bosque paid tribute to his team Thursday after their phenomenal unbeaten run was ended by the United States, vowing they would bounce straight back.The European champions were heavily favoured to make the Confederations Cup final but were outfoxed by the Americans late Wednesday to lose 2-0 in a major upset.
It not only brought an abrupt halt to their world record 15 consecutive wins, in which they conceded just two goals, but also prevented them from surpassing Brazil’s 35-match unbeaten streak.
Spain will have to be content with going into the history books level with the South Americans after their first loss since November 15, 2006.
"We are in the world of sport and it was a strong rival and I cannot be unhappy with the effort made by the team. We did everything we could," said Del Bosque, who tasted his first defeat since taking over the national team.
"It’s never good to lose and we are not used to it but there always comes a moment.
"We’ve finished the Confederations Cup and we’ll try to win the next match then try to think about our qualification for the World Cup."
Spain had won all three of their previous encounters with the United States but were undone by Bob Bradley’s tactics, with Barcelona’s influential midfielder Xavi successfully stiffled in the middle.
Add in a solid defensive display and a fine performance by Everton’s Tim Howard in goal and it is the United States who will contest the final on Sunday in Johannesburg against Brazil or South Africa.
Despite a long, gruelling season, Spain can’t escape the freezing South African winter just yet with the third-place playoff game on the same day in Rustenburg.
"We did a good analysis of the rival," said the pokerfaced Del Bosque, who had spent the days before the match studying videos of the United States.
"They do not spend much time in midfield, they go straight for goal.
"We tried to go down the wings because it was too tough for us through the middle. We had many opportunities and they really closed the door for us while our attackers had real problems with their defence."
The 58-year-old denied that his team were complacent or were thinking about the final before getting through the semis.
"No, we are sportsmen and we have to accept this defeat. But fortunately we have a team that can bounce back and has a very good future ahead," said the former Real Madrid boss.
"This is a stumbling block for us and we have to look to just look forward."
Despite the loss, Spain’s talent-laden team remain the number one ranked side in the world, although Del Bosque is uncomfortable with the mantle.
"I don’t like this description," he insisted.
"You only have to look at teams like Brazil, Germany and England to know there is a lot of quality out there."