World Cup Daily Recap: Villa lifts Spain, Paraguay tops Japan in penalty kicks

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Photo by Ben Queenborough/ISIphotos.com

By AVI CREDITOR

Spain appears to have steadied its World Cup ship.

After breaking down and holding off Portugal on Tuesday, 1-0, La Furia Roja clinched the eighth and final spot in the quarterfinals and put to bed any worries about a failed tournament run.

Spain's play started with an out-of-sync, 1-0 loss to Switzerland. Vicente del Bosque's men have since reverted back into their fluid, possession-dominating, defensively sound style and haven't trailed since the opening loss.

Spain controlled the bulk of the possession against perhaps the tournament's premiere defensive unit, as Portugal hadn't allowed a goal through group play against opponents such as Brazil and the Ivory Coast. The Portuguese stood tall until Xavi and Andres Iniesta orchestrated a passing sequence at the top of the box that led to David Villa's 63rd-minute, game-winning goal. 

Villa's first shot from a left-side angle was saved by Eduardo, but the Portugal keeper yielded a rebound that Villa chipped under the crossbar to break the scoreless deadlock.

Portugal never threatened Spain goalie Iker Casillas after that, as star Cristiano Ronaldo found little success throughout the match. His most notable moment came in the 28th minute, when he blasted a shot off Casillas' chest on a 40-yard free kick. Ronaldo, under much scrutiny for his failure to deliver on the international stage, scored one goal in the World Cup, Portugal's sixth tally in its 7-0 rout of North Korea.

Here are highlights of Villa's goal:

PARAGUAY OUTLASTS JAPAN IN PENALTIES

After 120 scoreless minutes, Paraguay and Japan became the first teams in the 2010 World Cup to have a game decided by penalty kicks. The South Americans made all five of their attempts, but Japan defender Yuichi Komano blasted his off the crossbar to account for the difference, as Paraguay took the shootout, 5-3.

Edgar Barreto, Lucas Barrios, Cristian Riveros, Nelson Valdez and Oscar Cardozo each were successful from the spot for Paraguay.

Yasuhito Endo and Makoto Hasebe each made their penalty kicks, but Komano, who had never scored for Japan on the international level, gave the Guaranies the break they needed.

Keisuke Honda kept Japan alive with his cool finish, but Cardozo took a slow run-up and fired into the vacant lower left corner for the clincher.

Regulation and extra time were pretty fruitless, with neither team seriously threatening the opposing goalkeeper. Paraguay striker Lucas Barrios troubled Japanese keeper Eiji Kawashima on a low shot in the first half and a header in the first period of extra time for two of the South Americans' best chances.

Honda was held in check for the most part, though his 40th-minute strike from 20 yards was just left of the post.

Here are highlights from the shootout:

Spain and Paraguay will meet in one of the four quarterfinal matchups. Brazil-Netherlands, Argentina-Germany, Uruguay-Ghana are the others.

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What did you think of the day's matches? Do you think Paraguay can upset Spain? Amazed that four out of the final eight teams are from South America? What did you think of Ronaldo's World Cup?

Share your thoughts below.

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22 Responses to World Cup Daily Recap: Villa lifts Spain, Paraguay tops Japan in penalty kicks

  1. isthatagoal says:

    why does that villa goal look half a step offside ? freezing it at 25 second mark that is

  2. war says:

    I thought he was offside, but i really wouldn’t want to see another 30 of this game. I think this was the only game when Ronaldo got 3 shots on target out of the thousand he’s had this tournament. They deserve to go out. If the only team you can score against is N. Korea, there’s a problem.

    Speaking of offside, the refs from the Mexico-Argentina, Germany-England have been sent home as reported by ESPN and SkySports, in addition to Coulibaly.

  3. Alex says:

    Napoli targeting Dempsey and Altidore?? per illmatino

  4. Stevie says:

    Still not convinced about Spain’s ability to win it all… They are playing like Barcelona did against Inter during the Champions League semis: slow, predictable, and boring. I fell in love with this team during the Euros, but they have yet to impress against good opposition. That said, they were the better team today.

  5. unitedintx says:

    i counted 9 defenders in the box to the 4 Spanish attackers. Sublime

  6. Second City says:

    While I know it’s speculation, I don’t see why Dempsey would agree to it. It’s a lateral move away from a league/country we’ve read he’s very happy in.

    At Fulham, he’s respected and comfortable. I believe the only way he leaves is if it’s for a sincere step up in Club.

    Napoli, just isn’t that, imo, and doesn’t seem a worth while place to leave Craven Cottage.

  7. mike says:

    South American final, baby!

    Sorry, plastics. No Euros.

  8. war says:

    Reports also saying Hodgson to take over Liverpook tomorrow. If that happens, I’d take Dempsey to Liverpool rather than to Napoli. Also, I doubt Clint would want to get up and move with his family to a league where creativity and flare don’t really exist.

  9. rob says:

    When Spain faces a decent team they’ll get knocked out. Portugal is just Ronaldo. Don’t really need to worry about anyone else, and when he’s shooting from 40 yrds everytime there’s not really any threat.

  10. Second City says:

    Precisely my thoughts too, war.

    I’m torn on Hodgson going to Liverpool because I respect the man immensely, conversely, I can’t stand the supporters of ‘pool.

    With a potential/likely exit of Mascherano and Hodgson’s affinity for American talent….one can realistically ponder that as many as three American’s could join Liverpool.

    1. Dempsey
    2. Bradley
    3. Donovan (wildcard)

    With Liverpool’s loss of Benayoun, I could envision this being another potential landing spot for LD.

    I’ll admit, if any three of those names join Hodgson, it may be hard not to cheer for them…

  11. Stephen says:

    Yeah. England’s been good to Dempsey I don’t see him leaving. It may be a good move for Altidore though.

  12. patrick says:

    he’s also intimated in interviews that hes not a fan of living in england, if thats the case I can’t see him moving to italy unless it was a much bigger team.

  13. War daddy says:

    If Bob Bradley is fired, USSF should offer its job to Hodgson. Make this happen Sunil!

  14. SBI Troll says:

    The blueprint to beat Spain was created by Bob Bradley. The Special One used it in club football while we wait for someone to follow suit in international football (other than the Swiss). Dunga perhaps?

  15. winston says:

    I find beautiful irony in the fact, that after not getting called for repeatedly cheap shotting the Japanese, Paraguay will get called for a thousand hardly fouls against Spain. I would generally rout for SA v Eur but not with that team.

  16. sread says:

    I agree. They no longer have that same flair. I just saw another asinine article by Jamie Trecker talking up Spain’s performance as a “magnificent display of football”. Sometimes I wonder how that guy has the job he has.

  17. Erik says:

    I can’t stand watching Spain – they are one of the most boring and predictable sides around.

    Dribble around the middle, push it out wide, cross to a mini midfielder in the box and watch it go over his head. They will be stopped, but it won’t be until the semi’s.

  18. Erik says:

    Jamie Trecker is one of the biggest clowns around and it does make you wonder how he has the job he does.

    I wonder how his predictions are stacking up…

  19. Erik says:

    Is it just me, or is this World Cup just a bit boring? The US run was great and had me pumped of course, but I’m just not feeling it.

    The horns have killed the entire competition atmosphere (I truly hope Brazilian vendors don’t jump in to make money in 4 years) and the matchups have been so dull. Half of the stadiums fail to live up to 4 years ago in Germany, etc. How many running tracks are there? The Spain Portugal game almost put me to sleep.

    Maybe I’m just bitter about the US, but I’m bored.

  20. war says:

    Dempsey and Bradley are good options (given Liverpool play Gladbach in a friendly this year) as Lucas and Babel aren’t much of a competition.

    Torres

    Stevie G

    Deuce-Bradley-Masch-Maxi

    Carra-Skrtl-Agger-Johnson

  21. sread says:

    I’m still very bitter that we got knocked out so easily too, but I think these final matches should be great. Watching Spain look so nonchalant and Ronaldo look so indifferent about playing for his country was pretty upsetting. There are those moments in certain matches when I hear the droning of the vuvuzelas and I see rows of empty seats scattered across the stadium…this WC certainly has a different taste to it, but the African vibe is good for the game. That said, I don’t see Africa hosting one again for a very, very long time.

  22. Erik says:

    I forgot about the empty seats… there are quite a few of them. And did Portugal even try to attack yesterday?

    I am excited about the Holland Brazil game as they tend to bring it against each other. Except that it’s on FRIDAY morning. Couldn’t we get a 2:30 kick off on a Saturday or something? Germany Argentina should be good as well.

    I am just thinking of Uruguay (who I like to watch) or Ghana in the Semi’s is just not very fun.

    I hope Spain doesn’t make the final – I will fall asleep with the mini passes from an indoor field.