CURITIBA, Brazil (AP) — David Villa marked his last appearance for Spain much like most of his previous ones — with a goal.
Villa opened the scoring Monday with his record 59th goal as the 2010 World Cup champions beat Australia 3-0 to avoid finishing last in Group B.
The striker marked his lone appearance in Brazil by deftly guiding Juanfran Torres' cross home with the inside of his right heel after 36 minutes.
Villa was overcome by emotion after being replaced in the 57th, burying his head in his hands. Not to shield his face from the blazing afternoon sun, but to reflect on an international career in which he played a key role in Spain's consecutive European Championship victories and maiden World Cup triumph.
"I thought about everything (the team has) given me, every day I had the luck and privilege to be here," Villa said. "To play for the Spanish team, from the very first day, has always been a great pleasure."
Villa, 32, has been an instrumental figure in Spain's rise since helping the country win Euro 2008, proving to be a versatile striker with the ability to slide into Spain's possession-based, combination football with ease.
Villa surpassed Raul Gonzalez's former mark of 44 goals for Spain to claim the record mark, which he began chipping away at with his debut in 2005.
"It would be an honor for me to be surpassed by someone because I will always be a part of the story of this team," Villa said. "Obviously it would be great for the team if another or others score more goals for the team."
Spain's veterans have been criticized for hanging on for one tournament too long — a shocking 5-1 loss to the Netherlands followed by a 2-0 defeat to Chile left the reigning champions without a chance of advancing to the knockout stages.