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.

  • Spain and Portugal deadlocked at Half Time

    Half time score 
    Spain 0 Portugal 0

    Fernando Torres and David Villa missed two great chances for Spain early on, but Portugal created more as the half went on, although the score is still 0-0.

    Spain had Portugal on the ropes in the first 15 minutes but they've settled down a bit more...The midfield has been won by Spain but Portugal's defence has been excellent

    Tuesday, June 29, 2010

    Paraguay thro to QF after passing Penalty test

    14:00 GMT, June 29, 2010
    Loftus Versfeld Stadium, Pretoria, South Africa

    (5)0 - 0(3)

    Paraguay win on Penalty Kicks.

    Japan defender Yuichi Komano hit the bar in the penalty shootout against Paraguay to condemn his side to a 5-3 defeat. A dreadful game ended 0-0 after extra-time, but Paraguay now advance to the quarter-final.

    With neither side able to make the breakthrough during 120 minutes of precious few goalscoring chances or notable incidents, it needed the first shootout of the 2010 World Cup to separate the two nations.
    And it was Paraguay who emerged victorious after Japan defender Yuichi Komano, looking to make it 3-3, slammed his effort against the crossbar.
    That proved to be the crucial miss as Paraguay scored all five of their efforts, with Oscar Cardozo casually slotting home the winning spot-kick to send his team wild.

    Paraguay will now meet the winners of Tuesday's match between Spain and Portugal for a place in the semi-finals, while the Blue Samurai head home after seeing their own dreams of a maiden World Cup quarter-final ended.
    There was little to separate the sides during an evenly-fought first half that produced only a couple of moments to excite the fans at Loftus Versfeld stadium.

    Neither side came particularly close to snatching a late winner in the second half of extra-time, meaning this year's World Cup would have its first penalty shootout - with Paraguay taking the honours.

    Scoring Summary


  • Man of the Match: Nelson Haedo Valdez


  • Man of the Match: Nelson Haedo Valdez - The Borussia Dortmund striker was an unexpected absentee from the starting line-up having impressed in South Africa so far and was one of the few players to look dangerous after appearing on the hour mark. As well as supplying clever movement, Valdez also scored his penalty and should be reinstated to the team when Paraguay face either Spain or Portugal in the quarter-finals.

  • Paraguay verdict: While Gerardo Martino's side continued to prove resolute in defence after conceding just one goal in the group stages, they lost some of the spark that saw them finish ahead of Slovakia, New Zealand and Italy in Group F. The decision to omit Valdez was a strange one and Paraguay looked brighter after his introduction. Roque Santa Cruz looked largely lifeless and it was his replacement, Oscar Cardozo, who scored the crucial penalty. They look ill-equipped for the next round.

  • Japan verdict: Gone was the side that dazzled in the defeat of Denmark. In a poor, poor game, Japan contributed to a succession of listless passes and a few missed chances. Daisuke Matsui rattled the bar in the first half but they struggled for inspiration in the final third. Having said that, few expected Japan to make it out of the group stages and a defeat on penalties in the second round is far from a disgrace for a side that struggled for form heading into the tournament. In the likes of Keisuke Honda, Yuto Nagatomo and Matsui they have players who have proved their quality on the biggest stage of all.

  • Could do better: Yuichi Komano - It is desperately harsh to single out one player from this aberration of a match, but when it really, truly mattered, Komano was found wanting as he was the only player to fail to score from 12 yards.

  • Stat attack: There had never been a penalty shootout at the World Cup that did not involve a European side until this game.