(Tuesday, June 29th)
Final Score: Spain 1, Portugal 0
Cape Town, South Africa (Sports Network) - David Villa scored the match- winning goal in the second half and Spain defeated Portugal, 1-0, on Tuesday at Green Point Stadium to advance to the quarterfinals of the FIFA World Cup.
Villa scored in the 63rd minute when he followed his own deflected shot with a second chance off the underside of the crossbar, and pulled into a tie for the tournament lead with four goals.
Spain will play Paraguay, which defeated Japan on penalties 5-3 after a 0-0 draw through 120 minutes, in the quarterfinals on Saturday.
"We're taking things step by step," Villa said. "Portugal pushed us all the way today but this was a big jump forward. We've beaten a very tough side and we have a lot of confidence in ourselves and in our potential. Scoring the winner was wonderful and I haven't had many games where I've felt better than this."
Spain put pressure on Portugal early, with Fernando Torres testing Portugal goalkeeper Eduardo in the first minute. Torres curled a shot from the left edge of the penalty area to the right post, but Eduardo dove to send the ball wide.
Villa followed with a similar shot that forced another diving save from Eduardo in the third minute before he tried the near post three minutes later but, Eduardo made another save.
Torres had his second early chance in the 12th, but Eduardo just watched as it sailed over the bar from the right side.
Cristiano Ronaldo drove a long free kick directly goal in the 17th minute that Spain goalkeeper Iker Casillas easily handled for his first save.
A long shot from Portugal's Tiago caused a little more trouble for Casillas in the 20th, but he was able to punch the ball away from the goal line with Hugo Almeida challenging.
Ronaldo had another long blast bounce off Casillas' chest in the 28th, but the Spanish defense cleared the loose ball.
Raul Meireles created another chance as Portugal continued to push forward, as he crossed to the far post for Almeida in the 39th but the Werder Bremen man turned the header wide right.
Eduardo tried to send Simao free minutes later but Casillas raced off his line to clear the ball just before the Portugal forward could reach the pass. Fabio Contrao created another chance before halftime off a cross, but Tiago headed wide left.
Portugal opened the second half with another chance on a cross from Almeida as it deflected off Spain defender Carles Puyol and sailed inches wide of the right post.
Spain manager Vincente del Bosque made a gutsy substitution early in the half when he took Torres off for Fernando Llorente. Llorente responded with the best scoring chance of the match, but put an open header from six yards right into Eduardo's hands.
Villa followed with a dipping shot just wide of Eduardo's left post, but found the opener in the 63rd minute.
Andres Iniesta dropped a quick pass to Xavi at the top of the penalty area and Xavi backheeled the ball out to the left side to Villa. Villa's first shot was stopped by Eduardo, but he fired the rebound off the underside of the crossbar and in for his fourth goal of the World Cup.
"I had a good game for sure but when it comes to World Cups individual performances aren't enough," Eduardo said. "It's the team that counts at the end of the day and it's really frustrating to concede a single goal and get knocked out of the World Cup. Portugal are known for being tight at the back, but we ended up letting in a goal we never should have conceded. We had some great chances in the first half but Spain created the better openings after the break. It's a shame, but the dream is over for us."
Villa is even with Argentina's Gonzalo Higuain and Slovakia's Robert Vittek on the scoring charts.
Defender Sergio Ramos nearly sealed Spain's quarterfinal spot in the 70th, but Eduardo tipped his blast from 12 yards around the left post.
Villa had a half-chance in the 77th that Eduardo palmed away from the top-left corner, and Llorente turned a header just wide in the 87th.
Danny had the best of Portugal's late chances, but Ricardo Costa was sent off for elbowing Spain's Joan Capdevila, and the Portuguese exited the World Cup in the round of 16 after making the semifinals four years ago.
06/29 19:15:25 ET