World Cup Soccer
               === Villa, Spain edge Paraguay to reach semis ===
 Johannesburg,  South  Africa (Sports Network)  - David Villa scored with seven
 minutes  remaining  as Spain edged Paraguay,  1-0, on Saturday in a FIFA World
 Cup  quarterfinal at  Ellis Park Stadium that included missed penalty kicks by
 both teams.
 Spain  goalie  Iker Casillas denied  Paraguay's Oscar Cardozo from the penalty
 spot  in the  59th minute  and Paraguay's  Justo Villar  followed by  saving a
 penalty  from  Spain's Xabi  Alonso,  who  had  to  retake the  penalty  after
 converting his first attempt, in the 61st.
 Villa  responded with his tournament-high fifth goal in the 83rd minute to put
 the  Spaniards through to the semifinals. Spain will play Germany on Wednesday
 in  a rematch of its 1-0 triumph in the Euro 2008 final. Germany advanced with
 a 4-0 win over Argentina on Saturday.
 "We didn't play well and we never looked comfortable, but that was partly down
 to  Paraguay," Spain  coach Vicente  del  Bosque said.  "Even so,  I think  we
 deserved  to go  through and the best  thing about the game was the result. We
 are  delighted  to be in the  last four and  these are happy times for Spanish
 football.  We  are not scared  of Germany but I  think they are playing better
 than  anyone  right now.  We are  strong, though,  and we  can take on anyone,
 including the Germans."
 Paraguay  had only  one shot on goal  in the first half in the opening minute,
 but it was a weak effort from Jonathan Santana that Casillas easily saved.
 Xavi had Spain's best chance in the 29th, but hit a dipping volley from nearly
 35 yards just over the crossbar.
 Paraguay  appeared to  open the scoring in  the final five minutes of the half
 but  Cardozo's  effort was disallowed  for offsides. Cardozo was not offsides,
 but  a  teammate involved in  the play was, and  the goal was correctly called
 A  quiet  match intensified  near  the  hour  mark,  as Spain's  Gerard  Pique
 committed  a foul in the box against Cardozo. Referee Carlos Batres pointed to
 the spot but Cardozo's attempt was saved by Casillas at his left post.
 Less than a minute later, Antolin Alcaraz gifted the chance back to Spain when
 he fouled Villa in the area. Alonso converted the initial penalty kick but had
 to take it again after Batres ruled Spain's players had entered the box before
 the kick was taken.
 Alonso put the second attempt low to the right, similar to Cardozo, and Villar
 guessed  correctly to make the save. Spain's Sergio Ramos nearly converted off
 the rebound, but his shot was cleared off the line.
 It marked just the second time in World Cup history two penalties were stopped
 during normal time, the last coming in the first tournament 80 years ago.
 Andres Iniesta forced a diving punch from Villar in the 63rd, and the game had
 a down period for 20 minutes until Villa struck the game-winner.
 Iniesta set up the play with a nice run through midfield and dropped a pass to
 Pedro on the right side. Pedro drilled the left post, and the rebound came out
 to  Villa near  the penalty spot. Villa  then hit his shot off the right post,
 but it made its way barely over the goal line.
 Lucas  Barrios and Roque Santa Cruz had back-to-back chances saved by Casillas
 in  the 89th,  and Villa nearly capped  Spain's win with his sixth goal of the
 tournament, but Villar made a save on a clear-cut chance.
 Paraguay  was  playing in the quarterfinals  for the first time, but failed to
 join  fellow South  American side Uruguay in the final four. Uruguay plays the
 Netherlands in the other semifinal on Tuesday.
 "I  thought we gave everything we had to give," Paraguay coach Gerardo Martino
 said.  "We had  our  chances  but unfortunately  Spain  went  through and  not
 Paraguay.  That's football.  Chances were created and one side took one of the
 few  that came along. I?d like to thank the players for their commitment. They
 gave their all."
 07/03 19:43:41 ET

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