World Cup: Paraguay vs. Japan (Matchday Commentary)

Paraguaylogo  JapanLogo

By AVI CREDITOR

Two of the World Cup's more surprising teams will clash with a spot in the quarterfinals on the line, as Paraguay and Japan meet at Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria, South Africa (10 a.m., ESPN/ESPN3.com).

Paraguay's place in the knockout stage isn't a complete surprise, but few would have pegged the South American nation to win Group F over Italy. The Guaranies held their group-stage opponents to just one goal, displaying a stingy defense that is tough to break down.

Japan's run is surprising considering the Samurai Blue had to outlast both Denmark and Cameroon for the second spot in Group E behind the Netherlands. Keisuke Honda has emerged as one of the breakout players of the tournament, and Japan seems to be one team that to has mastered the free kick with the much-maligned Jabulani ball. Two set-piece goals lifted Japan to the win over Denmark that cemented the Asian nation's place in the Round of 16.

I'll be providing commentary on the match, so please feel free to follow along and share any thoughts and opinions in the comments section below. Enjoy the match (commentary after the jump).

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POSTGAME - That's all for me for now. Thanks for following along on SBI, and we'll see you in less than two hours for Spain-Portugal.

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POSTGAME - Paraguay makes the quarterfinals for the first time, joining fellow South American nations Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay among the final eight.

The Guaranies will not be an easy out either. That defense is downright frustrating for opposing offenses, and either Spain or Portugal will have a hard time breaking through.

Paraguay's inspired run, which has been dedicated to Salvador Cabanas, continues.

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PENALTY KICKS – There's always a goat in penalty shootouts, and unfortunately for Japan, it's Yuichi Komano. His penalty off the crossbar was the only miss in the shootout.

Overall, a very commendable showing by Japan, which came up just shy of its first appearance in a World Cup quarterfinal.

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PENALTY KICKS – Cardozo had a drawn-out run up to the spot and got Kawashima to lean one way while sending the kick the other way. Paraguay wins the penalty shootout, 5-3, and will face the Spain-Portugal winner in the quarterfinals.

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PENALTY KICKS – GOAL CARDOZO!! PARAGUAY WINS IT!

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PENALTY KICKS – GOAL JAPAN! Honda keeps the Samurai Blue alive with a shot down the middle. 4-3. Kawashima needs a save.

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PENALTY KICKS – GOAL PARAGUAY! Valdez buries it, and Paraguay is almost there. 4-2.

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PENALTY KICKS – KOMANO OFF THE BAR!! There's the first break. Paraguay can put the pressure on now.

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PENALTY KICKS – GOAL PARAGUAY! Riveros with an easy-taken shot to the right. 3-2 Paraguay. All kicks have been very well taken so far.

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PENALTY KICKS – GOAL JAPAN! Hasebe with a strong, high shot. 2-2.

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PENALTY KICKS – GOAL PARAGUAY! Barrios JUST gets it by Kawashima. The keeper guessed right. 2-1 Paraguay.

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PENALTY KICKS – GOAL JAPAN! Endo confidently goes to the right. 1-1.

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PENALTY KICKS – GOAL PARAGUAY! Barreto tucks it home. 1-0 Paraguay.

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PENALTY KICKS – Villar. Kawashima. Whom do you favor?

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PENALTY KICKS – Seems like a fair way to settle things. Neither defense yielded much in terms of goal-scoring chances, and the players out there have reached their fitness limits. Drama city, here we come.

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120th Minute – And on we go to penalties. First game of the 2010 World Cup to reach this stage. Buckle up.

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120th Minute – On the brink of penalties.

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118th Minute – Riveros gets a yellow for another "deliberate" handball. De Bleeckere's interpretation is the only one that matters, but it has not necessarily been spot on all game.

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116th Minute – Wow, Japan with a precise attack out of nowhere, but the final ball just isn't there.

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116th Minute – Sluggish play. These are two tired teams that seem destined for penalties.

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114th Minute – Endo picks up a yellow for a late challenge, but I'm not so sure that was cardworthy. Endo will be forced to miss the quarterfinal if Japan wins. That's big.

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113th Minute – Endo's free kick curls toward the far post, but Tanaka doesn't have a good angle and his header is wide left. Both teams with good set-piece chances, but the execution isn't there.

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111th Minute – Header wide! Da Silva got the back of his head on the end of a corner but it wasn't close.

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110th Minute – Two hard tackles outside the Paraguay box, yet somehow a foul goes against Japan. Interesting.

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109th Minute – Flicked-on header by Barreto off a long free kick doesn't challenge Kawashima.

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108th Minute – Paraguay clears a long Japan free kick attempt. Every clearance matters at this point.

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106th Minute – Keiji Tamada will be Japan's last sub, and an attack-minded one at that. He replaces Yoshito Okubo. No more subs for either team.

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105th Minute – One more 15-minute period to go.

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104th Minute – Villar bobbles but eventually catches a Japan free kick. Honda drew the foul on Barreto to set it all up. Nervy stuff, but Villar made the play.

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100th Minute – Morel's service from the left has been great. Barreto gets a high kick from short range just over the goal off a Morel cross. Paraguay is knocking on the door.

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99th Minute – Honda gets a free kick going across the goal, but Villar makes the safe play to punch it away. Honda's full of creativity.

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98th Minute – What a flurry of action in front of Kawashima's goal. Valdez with the best chance, touching a ball through two defenders inside the area and getting a slight touch on frame, but Kawashima came out to make the block. Barrios' shot attempt after that was blocked by a defender. Tense moments for the Japanese.

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97th Minute – Japan's players have to be gassed. The starting lineup has been the same in all four games, and extra time will test their fitness.

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95th Minute – SAVE KAWASHIMA! Barrios gets a header on goal, but right at the keeper. Nothing too troubling, but anything on goal at this stage in the game always has a chance to be the winner.

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94th Minute – Not anymore he's not. Cardozo is on for Roque Santa Cruz. Solid substitution. Cardozo is a finisher.

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93rd Minute – What is Valdez doing?? He had a chance to find Barrios for an easy shot, but he went for a more difficult cross that led to nothing. Oscar Cardozo is waiting on the bench for a chance.

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92nd Minute – Okazaki's header off the corner goes wide.

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91st Minute – Japan with its most promising-looking attack yet. Honda, Okubo, Nakamura bring a wave of offense down into the Paraguay end and earn a corner.

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91st Minute – Extra time is underway.

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EXTRA TIME – Paraguay 0, Japan 0. If any game in this tournament had penalty kicks written all over it, it's this one. Neither team with a serious threat on goal in the second half.

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90th Minute – Honda gets a yellow for absolutely nothing. Honda tried to trap the ball with his chest and it hit off his bicep. That's a terrible call. Frank De Bleeckere, you're better than that.

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90th Minute – JUST out of reach for Tanaka off a long free kick. Nakamuro had the initial header to the right post, but Tanaka couldn't get a foot on it.

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90th Minute – Three minutes of stoppage time. My money's on 33 more scoreless minutes and then penalties.

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89th Minute – Vera with two crosses in from the left, but neither finds a Paraguay head. Not a great game for Vera, who was strong in the group stage.

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87th Minute – Nakamura with some dazzling footwork, sets off an attack that gets the Paraguay defense on its heels.

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86th Minute – Will a hero emerge over the next four minutes?

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84th Minute – No continuity in the attacking third for either side all game. This is not exactly "the beautiful game" on display.

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82nd Minute – Confident punch by Villar, who gets fouled by Okubo while both go up for the cross.

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81st Minute – Kengo Nakamura is on for Abe. Each team has one sub left, which is something that could come into play if extra time is necessary.

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80th Minute – Endo takes an arm to the face. Morel gets off without a card. Plays like that have earned red cards in this tournament. 

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78th Minute – Barreto bounces a shot on frame, but Kawashami comes up with a clean catch.

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77th Minute

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74th Minute – Edgar Barreto comes on for Ortigoza for Paraguay.

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73rd Minute – Ortigoza comes up with another great defensive play, timing a tackle to keep Honda from breaking down the right side. Two big plays for Ortigoza.

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72nd Minute – Nagatomo picks up a yellow for pulling Valdez back from behind. He'll miss the quarterfinal match if Japan gets there.

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71st Minute – Honda cuts back and lays off a great pass for Okazaki on the right. Credit Ortigoza for getting in the way of the cross. Corner Japan.

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68th Minute – Kawashima's knee appeared to go full-force into Tanaka's left shoulder. The defender runs back on, but we'll see if that changes his effectiveness.

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67th Minute – Kawashima takes a huge risk by coming way out on a long free kick and he takes out Tanaka in an unnecessary collision. Wow that could be a costly error.

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65th Minute – Shinji Okazaki comes on for Matsui. Okazaki scored the final goal against Denmark.

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62nd Minute – Tanaka's header off an Endo corner goes wide right. Great leap by the centerback.

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60th Minute – Benitez comes off for Nelson Valdez. Benitez had been doing well recently. Surprising to see him come off, but Valdez might be able to be more efficient.

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59th Minute – SAVE KAWASHIMA! Riveros' header is stopped by the Japanese keeper. Paraguay finding success on the left.

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58th Minute – Matsui gets a yellow card either for a deliberate handball or booting the ball away after the whistle. Either way, not really deserving of a card.

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56th Minute – Great recovery by Nakazawa to prevent Benitez' shot from getting on frame. Vera sprung the attack with a nice run and pass down the center.

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54th Minute – Anybody else hoping for another goal-line refereeing blunder that fast-tracks instant replay to FIFA competitions?

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52nd Minute – Honda being hounded by Da Silva any time he gets on the ball. Aside from his one shot that went just wide, the Japan star has been quiet.

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50th Minute – Ortigoza got free in the box, but he took too many touches to try and get space to shoot. Missed opportunity for Paraguay.

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49th Minute – Japan caught out of shape after a counterattack, but Paraguay can't capitalize.

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47th Minute – No subs for either side at the half.

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46th Minute – 45 (or maybe 75) more minutes to determine a winner.

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HALFTIME – The Japanese don't have to change much, tactically. All it takes is one chance to get on the board, and Matsui, Honda and Endo have shown the ability to break out on the counter with success.

For Paraguay, Gerardo Martino might want to consider bringing in Jonathan Santana for Ortigoza. Santana hasn't played since the Italy match, but Ortigoza is one touch away from committing a Ricardo Clark-esque turnover (too soon, I know), and Paraguay can't afford to spring Japan on its own goal.

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HALFTIME – Who has impressed? Lucas Barrios' spin move on his goal attempt was top-class. Marcus Tulio Tanaka is a handful in central defense, too. I've got a feeling that he'll have his name thrown around in the transfer market. He's not young (29), but his distribution from the back is stellar, he reads the game well, and he's not yielding anything to Paraguay's attackers. He was actually born in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Figures.

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HALFTIME – Paraguay 0, Japan 0. Paraguay was the better team, Japan had some decent chances too.

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45th Minute – One minute of injury time.

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43rd Minute – Paraguay's defense holds strong on another Endo attempt. The Guaranies' back line is like a Red Rover team that can't be broken. Yeah, that's an elementary school playground analogy I just threw at you.

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42nd Minute – Honda draws another foul on Da Silva, though that was star treatment. Not much in that confrontation. Another free kick for the Samurai Blue.

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40th Minute – Honda wide left from 20 yards! Great attack spearheaded by Matsui, and Honda's shot from straightaway nearly put Japan in the lead.

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37th Minute – Endo puts a teasing ball toward the far post, but Santa Cruz is back defending and heads it away. Surprised to not see Honda take that kick. Was definitely in his range.

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36th Minute – Honda draws a foul by Da Silva in a dangerous area. Here's the free kick Japan has been waiting for.

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35th Minute – Ortigoza with a bad turnover in the central part of his own territory as Honda runs the Japan attack. Nothing materializes, but when Ortigoza handles the ball, Japan's players are drawn like sharks to blood. 

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32nd Minute – Japan's first real continuous possession results in Hasebe's great cross into the area, but Bonet is up to the task of clearing it away.

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31st Minute – Paraguay controlling the run of play as Japan is out of sorts. Japanese would love to get out and counterattack in space, but Paraguay's discipline is evident thus far.

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29th Minute – Santa Cruz misses wide off a deflected corner!! Great chance for Paraguay from inside the box.

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26th Minute – Ortigoza with a better ball into the area, and Paraguay has a throw-in deep in Japan territory.

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24th Minute – Two moments of brilliance in an otherwise forgettable first half of the first half.

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22nd Minute – Matsui hits the crossbar from distance!! What a blast from 25 yards. Things have opened up.

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20th Minute – SAVE KAWASHIMA! Lucas Barrios got in behind the Japan defense with a spin move on the left, but the keeper came out and positioned himself well to make the stop.

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18th Minute – Japan would really like to push the tempo more and get free-flowing in attack, but Paraguay's defense is very resistant to having that happen.

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16th Minute – Sloppy passing both ways. Don't let the early-going in the match deter you from watching Spain-Portugal later today. That's going to be a special match.

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12th Minute – Slow pace to start this one. Not completely surprising. Paraguay has shown its propensity to grind games out.

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10th Minute – Honda yet to get involved for Japan, but he will. He really lets the game come to him as opposed to forcing the action.

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9th Minute – One of these two teams will secure a place among the World Cup's final eight. You have that in your office pool?

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7th Minute – Santa Cruz' cross from the right finds a leaping Benitez, but the header isn't near the frame. Benitez and Riveros collided on the play, but both appear to be OK.

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4th Minute – Nestor Ortigoza gets thrown into the fire for Paraguay. He hasn't played all World Cup, and he's starting at central midfield today.

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3rd Minute – Komano tests Villar from distance, but it's no problem for the keeper.

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1st Minute – Okubo with a quick shot from 20 yards that goes wide left.

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1st Minute – And away we go.

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PREGAME – Who do you think wins? I'll go with Japan, 1-0, on a Honda free kick.

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PREGAME – No changes for Takeshi Okada from the lineup that started against Denmark. No reason to change anything. That team played extremely well.

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PREGAME – Here are the starting lineups for the match:

PARAGUAY

———Barrios———-Santa Cruz——–

–Benitez—-Riveros—Ortigoza—-Vera–

–Morel—-Alcaraz—–Da Silva—-Bonet–

———————Villar——————–

JAPAN

——–Honda——Okubo——Matsui——–

———Endo——–Abe——-Hasebe——–

–Nagatomo–Tanaka–Nakazawa–Komano–

——————-Kawashima——————-

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40 Responses to World Cup: Paraguay vs. Japan (Matchday Commentary)

  1. Ricky B. Free says:

    They should Fire Japans coach for not starting Oliver Atom.

  2. Stephen says:

    I’ve been impressed with Japan throughout the tournament. They are a solid team.

  3. Gus Keri says:

    This game is coming to life

  4. Adriano says:

    What in the world?!

    Where’s the yellow card?

  5. Adriano says:

    The official seems completely biased against Japan.

  6. Adriano says:

    This is ridiculous, the official REFUSES to give Paraguay a card!

  7. Adriano says:

    WOW

    He got punched in the face! That is a straight red card, how do you not call that!!!

  8. Gus Keri says:

    This is probably the worst game of the world cup. I take back what I said before. For a minute, I thought things will get interesting. I was wrong

  9. Adriano says:

    The official is completely biased against Japan.

    I’m getting frustrated even watching this.

  10. Stephen says:

    That was impressive from Nakamura.

  11. Tony in Quakeland says:

    Game might not be pretty, but it certainly is tense. It’s holding my interest. Does seemed destined for PKs, however…

  12. Adriano says:

    Come on, is this official serious?!?!

    He is just screwing Japan. That’s a disgusting call.

  13. war says:

    That was the stupidist yellow given I’ve seen this world cup. I would say findley’s but that yellow got him suspended, so…it was quite good actually.

  14. Gus Keri says:

    I stopped paying attention to what referees are doing in this cup.

  15. Adriano says:

    I would love to see Japan advance, so it’s getting to me.

  16. Gus Keri says:

    Same with me.

    Also, I like to see Ghana make it to the semifinals.

  17. war says:

    This ref needs to be sent home

  18. Adriano says:

    I would not blink if it came out that the official has money on Paraguay.

    This is some pretty shockingly one-sided officiating.

  19. Stephen says:

    Japan is sickeningly technical. (In a good way)

  20. Adriano says:

    Japan has now been called for 28 fouls and 4 cards.

    The most disciplined team in the World Cup has 28 fouls and 4 cards.

  21. Stephen says:

    Or got money from Paraguay.

  22. Stephen says:

    This is also the ref that disallowed Dempsey’s goal in the Algeria game.

  23. Adriano says:

    Sliding tackle from behind, doesn’t even appear to touch the ball, man goes down, and it’s not even a foul?

  24. Adriano says:

    No way, really?

  25. Adriano says:

    Let’s go Japan!

  26. war says:

    hah. Ref only shakes Paraguayan captain’s hand

  27. Adriano says:

    I thought the same thing.

  28. Adriano says:

    Why in the hell would you let a defender who has NEVER scored take a World Cup PK?>!?!?

  29. war says:

    why wasn’t honda on that?

  30. Adriano says:

    #coachingfail

    a defender who has never scored an international goal is given a game deciding penalty kick?

  31. war says:

    it’s not like he launched it into space. He hit the bar.

  32. jts says:

    This is meant as a serious (as opposed to sarcastic) reply:

    They probably practice these extensivley in training and he is one of their best 5 shooters.

  33. Stephen says:

    Are you serious?

  34. Adriano says:

    I’ve blocked those terrible games out of my mind.

  35. Adriano says:

    You’re probably right.

  36. Raymon says:

    So is it more cruel to end a game on (nearly random)PKs, or to force the players to play on until a golden goal?

  37. Brad says:

    Paraguay will hopefully show better against Portugal/Spain. Ortigoza took a long time to settle in against Japan and he’ll be replaced by Caceres again, plus Vera had a horrible game and Barreto was playing for the first time in this WC.

  38. JFC says:

    the international football association board got rid of golden goals in 2004. i dont know why it definitely picked up that pace of the game.

  39. Stephen says:

    Yeah. It really was.

  40. Raymon says:

    Interestingly, some coaches don’t practice PKs because the fatigue and psychological stresses of game deciding PKs can never be replicated on the training field.