Tuesday, June 29, 2010

David Villa Spain's hero as they beat Iberian neighbours Portugal 1-0

David Villa was once again Spain's hero as they beat Iberian neighbours Portugal 1-0 to reach the World Cup quarter-finals.

The Barcelona striker scored his fourth goal of the tournament, his seventh in as many World Cup starts, with a poacher's finish in the 63rd minute in Cape Town to complete a fine Spain move against a Portugal side that was reduced to ten men in the final moments when Ricardo Costa was sent-off for violent conduct.

Two years to the day since their European Championship triumph, Spain were the more fluid team throughout and deserved their victory, which sets up a quarter-final clash against Paraguay in Johannesburg on Saturday.

Spain coach Vicente del Bosque named the same starting line-up that beat Chile in their last game, while Simao Sabrosa and Hugo Almeida returned to the Portugal side for the first ever World Cup finals clash between the Iberian rivals.

The action started almost immediately, Liverpool striker Fernando Torres bending a shot that Portugal goalkeeper Eduardo had to scramble to save, before making an almost identical stop to keep out Villa's effort.

At the other end, Tiago tested Iker Casillas from the edge of the box and then he and Almeida missed the target with headers from unmarked positions.

Both sides came out after the beak with more purpose, and Portugal nearly took the lead in the 52nd minute when Almeida's cross took a deflection and looped just wide of the post.

Spain responded and Villa smashed an effort just wide before substitute Fernando Llorente, on for Fernando Torres, headed straight at Eduardo from point blank range.

Spain took the lead two minutes later and it took something special for Portugal to concede only their second goal in 13 internationals. Some wonderful build-up play from Andres Iniesta and Xavi set up Villa, whose first shot was saved by Eduardo before his second found its way into the goal via the underside of the crossbar.

Sergio Ramos and Villa both forced Eduardo into a diving saves as Spain pushed to double their advantage. Portugal rallied late on but Costa saw red after he appeared to direct an elbow towards Joan Capdevila and Spain played some of their customary passing football to comfortably see the game out.


Spain: Iker Casillas, Sergio Ramos, Gerard Pique, Carles Puyol, Joan Capdevilla, Xabi Alonso (Carlos Marchena 90+2'), Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Sergio Busquets, Fernando Torres (Fernando Llorente 59'), David Villa (Pedro 87')

Portugal: Eduardo, Bruno Alves, Ricardo Costa, Ricardo Carvalho, Fabio Coentreao, Raul Meireles, Pepe (Pedro Mendes 72'), Tiago, Cristiano Ronaldo, Simao Sabrosa (Liedson 72'), Hugo Almeida (Danny 58')


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