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Spain Scrape Through To Semis
Cristian Riveros of Paraguay slides into a tackle on Sergio Ramos of Spain
A timid performance by Spain saw them just beat Paraguay 1-0 in a 2010 FIFA World Cup quarterfinal match at Coca-Cola Park on Saturday evening.
It was not an even of the finest football but the match was certainly not void of drama as two penalties were missed and a late goal by David Villa saw the Europeans move into the semi-finals.
It was definitely not the most exciting first half in the World Cup as neither side were really able to create any clear-cut chances on goal. Spain did control the lion’s share of possession, but were unable to do anything significant with it.
In fact, the first real chance of the game went the way of the South Americans in the ninth minute. A cross from the right was floated into the box and Cristian Riveros was able to get to the ball ahead of his marker, but his header was a poor one from 12-yards out as it sailed high over the crossbar.
Thereafter, Spain continued to dominate proceedings virtually ruling the midfield with an iron fist, but still they were unable to fashion any opportunities on goal.
Instead, Paraguay’s stubborn defence appeared to frustrate the Spaniards and it showed in their play which seemed rushed and impatient. Spain’s passing too just seemed to keep missing the mark as they continually produced a poor final ball.
Spain’s only real chance came in the 29th minute after a quick turn by Xavi, 30-yards out from goal, saw him find some space. Consequently, he let fly with a powerful shot that looked to be beating the keeper, but flew just over the crossbar.
The biggest talking point of the half came in the 41st minute and was another mistake by the officials in this World Cup which saw them incorrectly rule Paraguay’s Nelson Valdez off-sides after scoring a goal.
Valdez was able to latch onto a deep cross from the right and then calmly slot the ball home, but the linesmen quickly raised his flag and denied him the game’s opening goal.
The second half started in the same vein as the first before referee Carlos Batres took centre stage awarding two penalties in a matter of minutes.
First, in the 57th minute the referee adjudged Gerard Pique to have dragged down Oscar Cardozo in the box when a corner was whipped in. But to be honest it was one and half dozen of the other, and not many an official would have pointed to the spot.
Nonetheless, Spain were not made to pay for the mistake when Cardozo saw his poor spot-kick easily saved by Iker Casillas.
Then only two minutes later and the referee awarded another penalty, this time the way of Spain, but rightly so, when David Villa was tackled from behind by Antolin Alcaraz after he beat the defender for pace.
And it seemed that Xabi Alonso had put his side in front when he calmly slotted his spot-kick home, but that was not to be the case as the referee made him retake the kick because his teammates had encroached on the area.
Alonso’s second attempt at the penalty saw Justo Villar making a comfortable save after yet another poor penalty.
Thereafter, Spain continued to press forward in attack and applied a lot of pressure on the Paraguayan goal.
Eventually, after a lot of missed opportunities the European Champions did manage to find a goal in the 83rd minute through none other than their top goal scorer in the tournament David Villa.
The goal, however, was sparked by Iniesta who drove down the middle of the park, beating three defenders before slipping a beautiful pass to Pedro and with only the goalie to beat. Pedro saw his shot go past the keeper, but rebound of the post into the path of Villa who made no mistake firing it home, 1-0.
That is how it ended. It was not the best performance from Spain but they will not care as long as they made it through to the semi-finals. They will now face a mighty Germany who hammered Argentina 4-0 earlier in the day.