CAPE TOWN -
Spain marched into the
quarter-finals in their own inimitable style on Tuesday when
another display of patient, precise passing let David Villa
deliver a 1-0 win over a Portugal side left chasing shadows.
The match was billed as a meeting
between the second- and
third-ranked teams in the world but the 1-0 scoreline gave
little sign of the real gulf between the Iberian neighbours.
your David Villa Spain shirt
The European champions now face
Paraguay on July 3 and have
a strong chance of reaching only their second World Cup
semi-final and the first for 60 years.
"We always controlled the game but
in the second half we
were better than Portugal, we had greater depth in our game and
we controlled very well," said Spain coach Vicente del Bosque.
Cristiano Ronaldo was a peripheral
figure for Portugal, who
clocked a couple of decent first-half chances but had few
complaints after failing to score for the third time in four
games in South Africa.
"Given the number opportunities, Spain had their victory and
it sits well with what happened in the game," said coach Carlos
"It must be
recognised that Spain moved the ball extremely
well and had a greater degree of possession.
"We had a number of opportunities
but we allowed Spain to
play the same type football up to the point where they scored."
Spain looked dangerous from the
off as Fernando Torres and
Villa stung goalkeeper Eduardo's palms three times cutting in
from the left in the opening seven minutes.
Portugal plugged that gap however
and, settling about their
task, worked hard to ensure Spain's crisp passing made patterns
in the midfield instead of inroads towards goal.
Portugal actually had the clearer
chances of the first half
as a swerving Ronaldo free-kick almost got past Iker Casillas
while striker Hugo Almeida missed a great headed opportunity.
Spain continued to dominate
possession after the break but
struggled to find a way through until Del Bosque's inspired
substitution after 58 minutes.
A weary-looking Torres gave way to
Fernando Llorente and two
minutes later the big striker forced Casillas into a great save
with his first touch - a diving header.
His presence upset Portugal's
concentration and spurred
Spain to accelerate their approach.
It paid off decisively in the 63rd
minute when after another
crisp move from deep, Xavi cleverly rolled Andres Iniesta's pass
into the path of Villa and though the forward's left-foot shot
was saved he reacted quickly to ram in the rebound with his
right for his fourth goal of the tournament.
Sergio Ramos, Villa and Llorente
all went close to a second,
with Eduardo keeping his side clinging on.
But in reality Portugal,
semi-finalists four years ago,
were going out of the tournament and like a leaf in a whirlpool
there was absolutely nothing they could do about it as Spain's
incomparable possession play deprived them of the ball.
Portugal's disappointing night was
completed with a harsh
red card for Ricardo Costa after a mild off-the-ball clash with
Joan Capdevila but Spain march on.
"It was a great collective effort,
we tied to keep
possession, keep the style of football we've been playing," said
man of the match midfielder Xavi.
"I think this is the best match
we've played in this World
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