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World Cup Recap - Paraguay vs. Japan



(Tuesday, June 29th)

Final Score: Paraguay 0, Japan 0

Pretoria, South Africa (Sports Network) - Following 120 scoreless minutes of action at Loftus Versfeld Stadium on Tuesday, Paraguay defeated Japan on penalty kicks, 5-3, to advance to the quarterfinals of the FIFA World Cup for the first time in its history.

Paraguay had the better of the possession and created more scoring chances, but Japan's Daisuke Matsui had the best opportunity of the match in the first half when he struck the crossbar from 30 yards out.

However, the South American side converted all five of its penalty kicks, while Japan's Yuichi Komano had his attempt hit the crossbar, allowing Paraguay to advance and leaving it with a quarterfinal date against Spain on Saturday.

"To be fair we tried to play football for the whole 120 minutes, but we couldn't find the net," Paraguay striker Lucas Barrios said. "What's left at the end of the game, however, is a huge sense of joy for making the next round. It's really pleasing to be able to make history with this squad."

The game saw its first chance after 20 minutes when Lucas Barrios did well to turn with the ball inside the penalty area, freeing himself from two defenders. However, he shot the ball straight into the legs of Japan goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima.

Japan then carved out one of its few scoring opportunities two minutes later when Matsui sent a dipping 30-yard shot toward goal that struck the crossbar.

Paraguay's Roque Santa Cruz had a half-volley 10 yards from goal, but he failed to threaten the net, while Matsui set up Keisuke Honda for a shot from the top of the box that was sliced wide.

Both teams got increasingly cautious as the second half wore on, and the only real threat came from Paraguay in the 58th minute when Claudio Morel's cross was headed on goal by Cristian Riveros, but the save was comfortable for Kawashima.

Paraguay pressed forward for a goal in the first half of extra time as Barrios had a header saved by the keeper, while Nelson Valdez was able to get into the box after a pass from Morel before his shot was smothered by Kawashima.

Edgar Barreto also had a chance minutes later for Paraguay, but he looped the ball over the net from six yards.

Both teams seemed content to go to penalty kicks in the second half of extra time, and Paraguay had no trouble converting its first three attempts, with Japan scoring on its first two.

However, Komano had his shot hit the crossbar, and after Valdez scored for Paraguay, Honda was successful in keeping Japan alive.

But substitute Oscar Cardozo struck the final blow when he rolled his shot inside the left post to end the game.

"Everything we've done during the tournament makes me feel really happy," Japan manager Takeshi Okada said. "This team has done Japan and all Asia proud. But, as far as today's defeat is concerned, I accept all the responsibility. As team coach I feel as we should have done more."

06/29 16:28:26 ET


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