Del Bosque maintains Spain's perfect year

MADRID - Spain coach Vicente del Bosque had the unenviable task of taking over Luis Aragones's Euro 2008 winning squad in July, but has more than proved he has the management skills needed to extend their incredible run.

The European champions capped their "annus mirabilis" with a 3-0 win over Chile on Wednesday, their 16th victory in 16 matches in 2008, including the Euro 2008 penalty shootout win over Italy, and are unbeaten in 28 games stretching back to a 1-0 defeat against Romania in Cadiz in November 2006.

As well as winning their first major trophy in 44 years, Spain jumped to the top of the FIFA world rankings and head World Cup qualifying Group Five with four wins out of four.

Former Real Madrid boss Del Bosque said it had been an "unforgettable" year and he hoped 2009 would be just as good if not better.

"The players demonstrated their qualities and their ability to shake off man-markers," Del Bosque said after the victory over Chile in Villarreal.

"It's a group of players that is united, ambitious and that enjoys itself on the pitch."

Against the Chileans, Spain again showed some of the fluid attacking football that made them so devastating at Euro 2008.

Barcelona midfielder Xavi underlined why he was voted player of the tournament and it was his clever turn and sliderule pass that set up Fernando Torres for Spain's second.

"He is the player who calls the shots for Spain and every time he touches the ball it turns into a goal-scoring chance," Chile coach Marcelo Bielsa said.

Chile were playing their first match since their 1-0 World Cup qualifying win over Argentina last month and Bielsa was glowing in his praise of Del Bosque's side.

"After a 3-0 loss I cannot really say no," he told reporters when asked if Spain were the best team in the world.

"Spain has harmony, speed and above all a tremendous confidence in its game," he added. "But this is nothing new. They have been playing at a very high level for almost two years now and especially in their last 20 matches."