Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Red hot Spain overcome Portugal challenge

6:30 PM GMT, June 29, 2010
Green Point Stadium, Cape Town, South Africa

1 - 0

Spain's crusade to add the World Cup trophy to their Euro 2008 title continued with a closely-fought second round win over Iberian neighbours Portugal.

Vicente Del Bosque's side dominated on the ball as usual but were frustrated for long periods by Portugal, who had decent chances of their own at Cape Town's Green Point Stadium.
Ultimately Spain's patience paid off, however, as David Villa's 63rd-minute goal secured victory exactly two years to the day since their European triumph in Austria.

They will now fancy themselves in a quarter-final clash with modest South Americans Paraguay while Portugal - who had Ricardo Costa dismissed in the final minute - face a disappointing trip home.

Scoring Summary

David Villa (63') 

Man of the Match: David Villa


  • Man of the Match: David Villa - In a game where Spain were again unable to quite hit the heights they are capable of, they required another goal from their predatory forward who claimed his fourth of the tournament to settle this second-round tie and move level with Robert Vittek and Gonzalo Higuain at the top of the goalscoring charts. Villa was a constant menace, as ever, and continues to demonstrate why he is the most feared striker in South Africa.

  • Spain verdict: Vicente del Bosque's side did not have to be at their best to progress on Tuesday night but in Villa they have a striker capable of settling any game. Midfield conductors Xavi and Andres Iniesta still have room for improvement, though the former's backheel to assist Villa was sublime, and the suspicion remains that Spain still have more in reserve. As they approach a quarter-final with Paraguay, Spain must consider whether dropping Torres will help bring the best out of the reigning European champions.

  • Portugal verdict: Outside of a 7-0 hammering of North Korea, Portugal did not score a goal in this World Cup and that is a damning statistic. Carlos Queiroz may have promised to attack Spain prior to kick-off but a performance full of endeavour did not materialise and Portugal's malaise was embodied by the frustrated figure of Ronaldo, who did little to justify his lofty reputation. Queiroz's side struggled with their shape in the latter stages and depart the World Cup full of regret having proved less than the sum of their talented parts.

  • Could do better: Fernando Torres - While his team-mate Villa moved to the top of the World Cup goalscoring charts with his fourth of the tournament, El Nino once again looked a little boy lost. His struggles at this World Cup are of real concern, and having not scored in qualifying he once again lived up to the tag of 'Spain's Emile Heskey' given him by the Guardian's Sid Lowe. Who would have thought Torres would fulfil the role of non-scoring striker, and a troubled one at that?

  • Stat attack: Xabi Alonso was the first Spanish player to be booked at this year's World Cup finals.

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