The AP World Cup Digest at 10 p.m. EDT (0200 GMT). The supervisor of the World Cup desk in Rio de Janeiro is Simon Haydon. The desk can be reached at 0055 21 348 264 84.
RIO DE JANEIRO — The king is dead. The World Cup will have a new champion. And the Netherlands look increasingly like credible pretenders for that newly vacated crown. Just like France in 2002 and Italy in 2010, defending champion Spain is going home tail between its legs. By John Leicester. SENT. 750 words.
RIO DE JANEIRO — With its superstars aging and its loyal coach slow to blend in young talent, Spain’s glorious reign as the superpower of world football was bound to end. The Spanish weren’t favored to repeat as World Cup champions. But few expected the utter collapse that ended Wednesday with a 2-0 loss Chile, knocking Spain from contention and ending the run of the greatest team of the century. By Graham Dunbar. SENT. 775 words.
PORTO ALEGRE, Brazil — Louis van Gaal can pinpoint the moment he knew his Netherlands team would be able to hold off Australia and secure the win that ultimately put them through to the knockout rounds of the World Cup. With just over 20 minutes to go in a frantic, seesawing match, Australia missed a golden chance to take a 3-2 lead. By Chris Brummitt. SENT. 700 words.
RIO DE JANEIRO — Nearly 100 rampaging Chilean fans broke through a security checkpoint at the Maracana stadium on Wednesday, rushing through a large media room and breaking down walls as they tried to force their way into the sold-out Spain vs. Chile match at the World Cup. By Alan Clendenning and Stephen Wade. SENT. 650 words.
WCUP-WHAT TO WATCH
NATAL, Brazil — The must-win World Cup encounter between England and Uruguay could boil down to which team best targets Luis Suarez. Both former champions realize a loss Thursday could signal the end of their World Cup campaign after just two matches. Uruguay, semifinalists in 2010, will be desperate to have Liverpool striker Suarez back after he missed the opening loss to Costa Rica with a knee problem. By John Pye. SENT. 700 words.
SANTOS, Brazil — If you are in Brazil for the World Cup, the next time you take a stroll on the beach and see one of the traditional football matches played on the sand, you might want to take a closer look. Some major star could be among those young guys kicking balls. On Wednesday afternoon, Manchester United striker Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez and six of his teammates on the Mexican team decided to take advantage of the day off given to them after a 0-0 draw with Brazil and spend a few hours playing ball with the locals at Iracema beach. SENT. 1,100 words.
WCUP-SPAIN-NOT GOOD ENOUGH
RIO DE JANEIRO — Spain’s players had different explanations for the team’s early World Cup exit. Captain Iker Casillas said there was lack of commitment, midfielder Xabi Alonso thought there wasn’t enough hunger. According to Fernando Torres, Spain was “just not good enough.” By Paul Logothetis. SENT. 500 words.
RIO DE JANEIRO — Chile started the World Cup as rank outsiders. But by eliminating defending World Cup champion Spain with a 2-0 win on Wednesday and reaching the last 16 — with a game to spare — it suddenly has more believers. By making the knockout stage this squad has matched what Chile achieved four years ago under Argentine coach Marcelo Bielsa. And most think this version is better than the last one. By Stephen Wade. SENT. 500 words.
RIO DE JANEIRO — Coach Vicente del Bosque said changes are in store for Spain — and maybe himself — after the team’s early World Cup exit on Wednesday. Spain became the first defending champion to lose its first two group games after Wednesday’s 2-0 defeat to Chile, which advanced alongside the Netherlands in Group B. By Paul Logothetis. SENT. 500 words.
RIO DE JANEIRO — After watching Spain miss one chance after another and slipping to another loss, Victor Serra walked out of Rio’s Maracana stadium to hordes of Chilean fans yelling “It’s over! It’s over!” It was, for both Spain’s World Cup campaign and its era of dominance that lasted six years but ended with a 2-0 loss to Chile on Wednesday. By Alan Clendenning. SENT. 600 words.
SAO PAULO — At England’s beachside hotel in Rio de Janeiro it was captain Steven Gerrard who tried to raise the spirits of his demoralized teammates. They hadn’t been outplayed by Italy in their World Cup opener — far from it — but still go into Thursday’s game with Uruguay on zero points in Group D. Addressing the squad, Gerrard told them to be “really proud of the effort and commitment,” but the 112-cap veteran also delivered a warning: lose against Uruguay and they are bound to be back on the plane to England next week. By Rob Harris. SENT. 600 words.
PORTO ALEGRE, Brazil — Tim Cahill’s stunning volley in the 21st minute made it two goals in two games at the World Cup for Australia’s talisman. His yellow card just before half time for a cluttering tackle on a Dutch defender ensured it was also more than likely his last. Australia lost 3-2 to the Netherlands, which had opened its campaign with a 5-1 rout of defending champion Spain. By Chris Brummitt. SENT. 450 words.
BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil — There is a new bounce in the step of Marouane Fellaini at the World Cup after a bad year at Manchester United. And if all things go Belgium’s way, the bounce in his curly hairdo might be gone in a month. Yes, Fellaini is still on the bench when the match starts, but that’s where any comparison with his Premier League seasons ends. By Raf Casert. SENT. 600 words.
PORTO ALEGRE, Brazil — The Netherlands had to work much harder for victory over the World Cup’s lowest-ranked team than it did against the defending world and European champion. A goalkeeping blunder by Maty Ryan handed substitute Memphis Depay his first international goal and the Netherlands the winner Wednesday after a spirited Australia had brought the Dutch back down to earth with a bump following their 5-1 thrashing of Spain in their Group B opener. By Mike Corder. SENT. 550 words.
SAO PAULO — Slamming in goal after goal for Liverpool, Luis Suarez appeared to be reaching the peak of his game and ready to take the World Cup by storm. That’s until the Uruguay striker felt pain in his left knee during the final match of the Premier League season. Following surgery to repair cartilage damage, Suarez is preparing to return to action for the first time more than a month ago. By Rob Harris. SENT. 600 words.
BRASILIA, Brazil — Didier Drogba may have to get used to playing the role of super-sub for Ivory Coast at the World Cup. The two-time African Player of the Year started on the bench against Japan in Ivory Coast’s opener but his introduction in the second half turned the match around, inspiring a comeback from 1-0 down to a 2-1 victory. By Steve Douglas. SENT. 450 words.
CAMPINAS, Brazil — Cristiano Ronaldo is fully fit to play against the United States in their crucial Group G match at the World Cup, a Portugal teammate said Wednesday. Ronaldo needed an ice pack for his troublesome left knee during the day’s earlier training session, once again raising concerns about the world player of the year’s fitness. By Aron Heller. SENT. 550 words.
RIO DE JANEIRO — Diego Maradona is not a special guest of FIFA at the World Cup, though Gisele Bundchen could still be. FIFA played down the latest broadside aimed by Maradona, one of the governing body’s fiercest and most regular critics. By Graham Dunbar. SENT. 600 words.
CUIABA, Brazil — It seems the World Cup and Fabio Capello just don’t mix. One of Europe’s greatest club coaches of his or any other generation, Capello moved into managing international teams in 2008 but is finding success — and luck — much harder to come by. By Steve Douglas. SENT. 600 words.
PORTO SEGURO, Germany — Toni Kroos plays alongside so many star players that his own contribution is often overlooked, both for his club and for Germany. This World Cup could be his chance to grab more of the spotlight. By Nesha Starcevic. SENT. 600 words.
CAMPINAS, Brazil — Shocked by a suicide bombing attack against a World Cup viewing site in northeast Nigeria, the country’s national team is more determined than ever to succeed in Brazil and provide some comfort to those at home, a team official said on Wednesday. Emmanuel Attah, the team’s coordinator, appealed for calm in Nigeria and said the team remained united and focused on its task of beating Bosnia-Herzegovina on Saturday, following a 0-0 draw with Iran in its Group F opener. By Aron Heller. SENT. 500 words.
MACEIO, Brazil — Ghana team officials said Wednesday that reports of a “player revolt” against coach Kwesi Appiah following the 2-1 loss to the United States at the World Cup weren’t true. A radio station misinterpreted the reason why a news conference at the team base in Maceio was postponed on Tuesday, the Ghana Football Association said, denying players had refused to report for the conference. SENT. 300 words.