Spain Vs. Portugal: Anything But Neighborly On The Pitch

David Villa

Spain's David Villa is the man of the hour and a half.  Villa scored the winning goal against Portugal, to move his team forward to the group of 8. Score: 1-0 Roberto Candia/AP hide caption

itoggle caption Roberto Candia/AP

It went down in Cape Town in a windy stadium on a wet pitch, with vuvuzela’s blarring: Spain vs. Portugal. The Iberian neighbors haven’t played one another in six years and six years ago, Portugal won.  But Spain was the overall World Cup favorite this time around, well, until their embarrassing loss to Switzerland in their first game.

So it was anyone’s match.

The two teams went at it, Spain with patience and passing, Portugal ready to counterattack with speed and swagger. Very early into the first half it was Spain shooting at the goal for target practice: Fernando Torres with a strong shot at 1 minute into the game, saved by Portugal’s ‘keep’ Eduardo; then Spain’s Villa with a long shot, saved again by Eduardo; Villa with another attempt to score at 6 minutes, challenging Eduardo’s goal keeping skills very early on.

Portugal’s strength is in their defensive wall and their ability to quickly counter attack. Portugal defender Fabio Coentrao took a few breakaways pretty far down the pitch. Cristiano Ronaldo kicked an awesome cross at 9 minutes in, but there was no Portuguese player to make the goal. The entire game was like that, a few Portuguese rushes down the pitch after a counter attack but no goal and Spain was quick to take the ball back.

The two teams were 0-0 at the half, but the game was intense, it was obvious both sides wanted a win, badly.

At 51 minutes, Portugal's Almeida had a surge down the pitch at full speed and his cross deflected off a Spanish defender and nearly made it in the goal. And then Spain took the ball right back with an even stronger counter attack: Ramos crossing to, just subbed-in, Llorente who nearly got a head on it, but no goal.

This was hold your breath, intense!

Two minutes later, Spanish forward,Villa gets the ball and shoots, the ball bounces off Portugal's 'keep' Eduardo, but Villa's foot is ready with another kick to the ball...and... GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOLLLLLLLLLLLL! Spain breaks down the awesome Portuguese defense, 62 minutes into the match.

After David Villa's goal, Spain was looking strong and Portugal, a bit deflated.  At 76 minutes in, Spain's Xabi Alonso recieved the team's first yellow card of this World Cup, but that couldn't stop the Spanish momentum and quick, precise passing.

At 80 minutes, the vuvuzelas were at a deafening pitch and things seemed to start breaking down on the Portuguese side. Portuguese forward, Danny with a shot at minute 88, shortly thereafter, his teammate Ricardo Costa is red carded for an elbow to Spain's Capdevila and thrown off the pitch. Portugal's down a man and, you know in your heart, it's over.  Even with a bit of injury time remaining.  It's over.

And it was.

Spain with the win: 1-0.  But history is not on Spain's side.  No team has ever won the World Cup and lost their first game.

¡Buena Suerte!

 

 

 

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