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World Cup Recap - Paraguay vs. Spain



(Saturday, July 3)

Final Score: Spain 1, Paraguay 0

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 back.

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 19:43:32 ET


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