Sunday, July 4, 2010

Villa the winner again for Super Spain

18:30 GMT, July 3, 2010
Ellis Park, Johannesburg, South Africa

0 - 1

David Villa enhanced his reputation as the World Cup's outstanding striker with a late goal to give a below-par Spain a 1-0 win over Paraguay and book a semi-final clash with Germany, in what will be a repeat of the Euro 2008 final.

The 28-year-old struck his fifth goal of the finals to send the perennial underachievers into the last four of the World Cup for the first time.
It was tough on Paraguay who had matched the European champions for much of the game - and though this has been a World Cup of shocks, the needle would have gone off the Richter scale if the South Americans had triumphed.
Spain now face Germany in the semi-finals - not since 1950, where they were part of a four-team final group, have they had such an opportunity to reach the final itself.

Both sides contrived to miss penalties before Villa came up trumps after Andres Iniesta had carved out an opening for Pedro, who hit the post with his new Barcelona team-mate producing the perfect follow up.
Until then, Paraguay coach Gerardo Martino, who made no fewer than six changes from the side that scraped past Japan on penalties, had got his tactics just right. Spain's coach Vicente del Bosque kept faith with the same starting line-up for the third game in a row but familiarity bred contempt for the first hour.

Scoring Summary

├ôscar Cardozo (pen miss 59')Xabi Alonso (pen miss 61')
 David Villa (83')

                             Men of the Match: Iker Casillas and Justo Villar


  • Men of the Match: Iker Casillas and Justo Villar - In a game devoid of much quality, both goalkeepers get an honourable mention. They both saved penalties to keep their respective teams in the match and the last time that happened was back in 1930 in a match between Argentina and Mexico.

  • Paraguay verdict: Gerardo Martino's side quickly slipped into their usual routine of defending tenaciously and hitting on the counter-attack. It worked a treat in the first-half but despite some slick interplay Paraguay were unable to capitalize on their early dominance. La Albirroja paid the price in the second-half as holes appeared at the back and David Villa eventually found a way through.

  • Spain verdict: Vicente del Bosque's side simply didn't turn up for the first-half. They were slow, lethargic, well off the pace and didn't muster a single shot on target. But with the coach's angry voice still ringing in their ears Spain rediscovered some of their fluid style after the break. When Torres and Alonso were replaced by Fabregas and Pedro, La Roja began to create chances and took the one that mattered.

  • Could do better: Xabi Alonso - Striker Fernando Torres could easily have been handed his fifth straight 'could do better' award but just to spare him such ignominy we have handed it to Alonso, and with justification. His much-vaunted passing was way off the mark and he also missed from the penalty spot. He was replaced by Pedro after 74 minutes.

  • Stat attack: Spain came into the 2010 World Cup having converted 14 of 14 penalties. They have missed two in this tournament.

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