Day 19 - IBERIAN KNIGHTS
Tuesday, the 2010 FIFA World Cup was privy to its first penalty-kick shootout, as well as an intriguing affair from two world-class European neighbors.
June 29, 2010
by Dan Krier
Spain 1 - Portugal 0
Things were back & forth all match long, with Spain controlling much of the possession, their domination dotted with several moments of offensive creativity from Cristiano Ronaldo and his Portuguese teammates.
The game’s only score came in the 63rd minute, when Spain’s left forward David Villa notched his World Cup-leading fourth goal on a crafty one-touch back-pass from Xavi which led Villa straight to the net. Villa’s first shot, a left-footer, smacked right into sliding Portuguese goaltender Eduardo. But the rebound fell softly and Villa was able to lift a right-footed shot just over Eduardo’s arms for the 1-0 lead and the first conceded goal of the tournament by Portugal.
The final twenty-plus minutes saw various scoring chances for both sides, but nothing really that close for the Portuguese, who were clearly outclassed by the Spanish offense, which was potent enough to be their best defense.
Not quite Red Fury for Spain, but they do move on to the quarterfinals, where they’ll face Paraguay Saturday as heavy favorites to make the final four. Portugal bow out of yet another world football tournament without a championship, left to wonder if it will ever happen for them. I kind of doubt it.
This was the result of both sides playing it safe, coalescing on a strategy centered around defensive sturdiness and offensive reluctance. For Japan, this was to be expected, their goal incursions based on counterattacks and curving free kicks. It was more of a surprise to see the same from Paraguay, who won their group with a mix of both defensive and offensive proficiency, scoring three times but only allowing one goal.
Today had the feel of a 0-0 tie from the opening kickoff, and indeed full time AND extra time played out in this manner (yes, 120 minutes was not enough). Therefore, the game had to be decided by penalty kicks, something no one likes but everyone enjoys.
So to PK’s it went, where both teams made their first two shots. Unfortunately for the Japanese, things took a terminal downturn when defensive-back Yuichi Komano, a player who had never scored a goal for his country, punched his kick too high, cracking it off the crossbar for a miss that will haunt him and the team for a long while.
Seconds after this, Paraguay saw Nelson Valdez slot the team’s fourth PK, and then Oscar Cardozo took his time and calmly finished things off in perfect 5-for-5 fashion for the men in striped socks, taking his team from the Round of 16 to the quarterfinals for the first time in history.
With the win, Paraguay become the fourth South American team to make it to the 2010 World Cup quarterfinals, an astounding feat based on how many teams began this tournament when qualifications started more than two years ago.
Next, Paraguay take on World #2 Spain, whosit ready to pounce in the next round to determine which team gets a shot at either Argentina or Germany. You’re not going to see a bad matchup from here on out. Enjoy!