David Villa is on target for Spain as they reach the World Cup semis.
Paraguay 0-1 Spain
FIFA World Cup 2010
7.30pm, Saturday 3 July
Ellis Park, Johannesburg
David Villa’s late strike fired European champions Spain to a place in the World Cup semi-finals with a 1-0 victory over Paraguay in Johannesburg.
The Barcelona striker scored with typically predatory finish via both posts eight minutes before time to set-up a mouth-watering semi-final clash against Germany in Durban on Wednesday.
Villa’s fifth goal of the World Cup – which makes him the tournament’s top scorer – came after two dramatic second-half minutes in which both sides missed penalties, first Oscar Cardozo for Paraguay and then Xabi Alonso for Vicente del Bosque’s Spain.
Spain now advance to the semi-finals of a World Cup for the first time since 1950, while they remain on course to become the only side to lose their first group game and go on the win the tournament.
The key moment of a lifeless first-half came four minutes before the break when Paraguay striker Nelson Valdez tucked the ball into the net after collecting a diagonal pass, but he was ruled to have been just offside.
The whole nature of the game changed in two crazy second-half minutes. On 57 minutes, referee Carlos Batres awarded the South Americans a penalty when Gerard Pique blatantly hauled down Cardozo.
The Benfica striker stepped up to take the kick himself but Iker Casillas in the Spain goal guessed correctly and made a diving save to his left.
And a minute before the hour mark, it appeared Cardozo’s miss would be punished when Spain were awarded a penalty for a foul on Villa by Antolin Alcaraz, who was perhaps lucky to receive only a yellow card.
Xabi Alonso stepped up to take the spot kick, and after his first effort was disallowed for encroachment, his second was saved by Justo Villar to his left.
As if there had not already been enough drama, Villar appeared to bring down Spain substitute Cesc Fabregas as he collected the rebound but this time the Guatemalan referee opted not to point to the spot.
Spain then broke the deadlock with a goal of genuine quality and Villa, a one-man goal machine, finished it off.
Andres Iniesta effortlessly burst through two challenges to tee up Pedro, whose shot cannoned back off the post and fell to Villa who – via both posts – curled Spain into the last four with his right foot.Paraguay
1 Villar (c), 2 Veron, 3 Morel, 14 Da Silva, 21 Alcaraz, 8 Barreto (13 Vera, 64), 11 Santana, 15 V Caceres (19 Barrios, 84), 16 Riveros, 7 Cardozo, 18 Valdez (9 Santa Cruz, 72)
Subs not used 12 Barreto, 22 Bobadilla, 04 Caniza, 5 J Caceres, 17 Torres, 6 Bonet, 20 Ortigoza, 10 Benitez, 23 GamarraSpain
1 Casillas (c), 3 Pique, 5 Puyol (4 Marchena, 84), 11 Capdevila, 15 Sergio Ramos, 6 Iniesta, 8 Xavi, 14 Alonso (18 Pedro, 75), 16 Busquets, 7 Villa, 9 Torres (10 Fabregas, 56)
Subs not used 12 Valdes, 23 Reina, 2 Albiol, 17 Arbeloa, 20 Javi Martinez, 21 Silva, 22 G Jesus Navas, 13 Mata, 19 LlorenteGoal
Carlos Batres (Guatemala)