World Cup post-game: Spain 1, Portugal 0
Reigning European champions Spain cruised into the FIFA World Cup quarter-finals Tuesday with slim, but convincing 1-0 win over their Iberian rivals Portugal at Green Point Stadium in Cape Town, South Africa.
David Villa's marker in the 63rd minute, his fourth goal of the tournament, lifted Spain into the final eight for the first time since 1994.
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The clash between these two titans did not disappoint and it was a shame they had to meet at this early stage in the tournament.
There was a blazing pace from the outset with the kind of quality indicative of the No. 2 and No. 3 teams in the world.
And while Spain carried the lion's share of possession in the opening half, both teams had chances to find the back of the net as goalkeepers Eduardo of Portugal and Iker Casillas of Spain were forced to make key saves.
In the 60th minute, Spain began to pour on the pressure with two glorious chances 60 seconds apart, first a diving header by Fernando Llorente which was stopped by Eduardo then a blistering shot from Villa, which just sailed wide of the right post. Finally, La Furia Roja broke through the formidable Portuguese back four with Villa's deciding goal.
Portugal star striker Cristiano Ronaldo, playing against many of his Real Madrid teammates and La Liga opponents, was not a factor in the game and was barely visible. His one real opportunity on goal was on a dipping 35-yard free kick in the 28th minute, which Casillas spilled but his defenders cleared from danger.
What this result means
Spain will move on to play Paraguay in the World Cup quarter-finals on July 3.
The winning goal
After a beautiful build up through the midfield from Spain, a series of one-touch passes led to Villa's goal. Andres Iniesta knocked the ball into Xavi, who deftly backheeled it to Villa. Villa's first shot was stopped by Eduardo, but the soon-to-be FC Barcelona striker followed it up and knocked the rebound under the bar for his fourth goal of the tournament.
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The turning point
Already under immense pressure from Spain, Portugal — desperately hanging on to the scoreless draw — were crushed when Villa scored.
Man of the match
Villa picked up his fourth goal of the tournament in the 63rd minute and could have had another one or two had it not been for the heroics of Eduardo in the Portuguese net. Villa accounted for half of his team's shots and also created scoring chances for his teammates with his fierce runs and crosses down the left side.
The Spanish perspective
"We never lost our confidence. We know the potential we have and what we can give." — striker David Villa.
The Portuguese perspective
"[Eduardo's] performance was brilliant. He saved and kept the team fighting for the result." — coach Carlos Queiroz.