CAPE TOWN - David Villa has found the
rich vein of form that can win a World Cup and as long as he
continues to mine it, Spain will be quietly confident of adding football's biggest prize to their European crown.
Villa's cool finish under pressure against Portugal on
Tuesday, his fourth goal of the tournament and his 42nd in 62
appearances, sent Spain through to the last eight to face
It also underscored his status as one of the game's most
lethal marksmen and showed how coach Vicente del Bosque has been
able to get the most out of Villa in South Africa while some of
the world's top forwards have failed to deliver.
Villa's strike partner Fernando Torres had another poor game
at Cape Town's Green Point stadium as Spain beat Portugal 1-0 on
Tuesday, while Portugal's former World Player of the Year
Cristiano Ronaldo disappeared almost completely in the second
half and heads for home with only one goal to his name.
Torres returned from knee surgery shortly before the
tournament and looks to be lacking the pace and strength that
have made him such a terror for defenders in the past.
Del Bosque withdrew him just over 10 minutes into the second
half, and his decision to throw hulking Basque forward Fernando
Llorente into the fray proved a masterstroke.
Spain had enjoyed their customary dominance of possession
against a defensive-minded Portugal side but lacked ball speed
and penetration and central defenders Bruno Alves and Ricardo
Carvalho were in firm control.
Llorente made an immediate impact, using his upper body
strength and height to hold the pair off, win headers and
generally shake things up.
He was involved in the intricate move of short passes that
led to Villa's goal and almost scored twice himself. Llorente
will be a valuable weapon for Del Bosque to have in reserve
against the Paraguayans and beyond.
But it was Villa who again made the difference for the
Spanish and his goal leaves him only two short of Raul's
national scoring record of 44 goal.
He displayed his versatility as his initial, left-foot
strike was saved by Eduardo but he had the presence of mind and
speed of reaction to switch to his right and fire high into the
net with a defender closing him down from behind.
Villa was top scorer at Euro 2008 and did not even play the
final due to injury but if Spain clinch a first World Cup
triumph on July 11 it will not be a huge surprise if the nippy
Asturian nets the crucial goal.
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