NPR logo Spain Outlasts Paraguay To Set Up A Showdown With Germany


Spain Outlasts Paraguay To Set Up A Showdown With Germany

Spain's David Villa (7) celebrates after scoring the winning goal against Paraguay in Johannesburg on Saturday. Jasper Juinen/Getty hide caption

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Jasper Juinen/Getty

Pre-tournament favorites Spain had to work for their quarterfinal win against South American minnows Paraguay. The unimpressive 1-0 victory sets up a semifinal showdown with Germany, a team Spain beat to win the Euro 2008 competition.

The two European powers will play Wednesday in Durban.

Paraguay's defense stifled the highly skilled Spanish side for most of the game. But they couldn't stop David Villa from scoring in his fourth straight World Cup game when he found himself on the receiving end of a rebound from a shot off the post by teammate Pedro in the 83rd minute. Villa bounced his own shot against the right post, with his ball ricocheting into the net.

Paraguay's largely ineffective offense had its chances, with an apparent goal called back for an offsides violation in the 42nd minute and a failed penalty kick by Oscar Cardozo in the 59th minute after he was fouled by Spain's Gerard Pique. Cardozo's penalty shot was blocked by Iker Casillas, who also saved the Spanish side late in the game when he came under attack by Lucas Barrios and Roque Santa Cruz.

Just moments after Spanish goalkeeper Casillas blocked Cardozo's penalty kick, Antolin Alcaraz fouled Villa in the box. Xabi Alonso made the resulting penalty kick, but it was waved off by referee Carlos Batres of Guatemala for encroachment by Spanish players.

Goalkeeper Justo Villar stopped the the penalty kick on the replay, as well as a rebound shot from Cesc Fabregas.

But it wasn't enough. Spain found a way to break through Paraguay's defense, while the South Americans could not muster the skill or luck to land their own shots.