Spanish Villa proves to be hot property


BARCELONA hotshot David Villa struck again as Spain took a huge step towards adding the World Cup to their European Championship.

Villa finally broke Portugal’s resistance just after the hour to set up a quarter-final with Paraguay on Saturday that they will be expected to win – and send their neighbours crashing out.

Portugal’s frustration was compounded in the dying stages when defender Ricardo Costa was shown a red card for swinging an arm at Joan Capdevila.

Spain, the pre-tournament favourites, again failed to hit top form, with Iker Casillas jittery in goal and striker Fernando Torres looking out of sorts. Portugal, whose emphasis was again firmly on defence at the expense of star man Cristiano Ronaldo, had goalkeeper Eduardo to thank for limiting the scoreline.

The Braga stopper kept out two almost identical efforts from Torres and Villa in the early stages, both men cutting in from the left to launch fierce strikes at the far corner.

Casillas was exercised too, although he looked far less assured in failing to hold long-
distance drives from Tiago and Ronaldo. Hugo Almeida also went close twice for Portugal either side of the interval, heading an easy chance off-target and then seeing his deflected cross spin inches wide.

Villa, left, broke the deadlock on 63 minutes when Andres Iniesta’s pass was backheeled on by Xavi and he finished at the second attempt.

Eduardo made further superb stops from Sergio Ramos and Villa, but unadventurous Portugal offered little as their time ran out.

Paraguay spot on in historic victory

PARAGUAY claimed a first ever World Cup quarter-final place by beating Japan in the tournament’s first penalty shoot-out.

Yuichi Komano’s miss allowed Oscar Cardozo to wrap up a 5-3 victory on spot kicks after a cagey match of few chances had finished 0-0 in Pretoria.

The South Americans will now meet Spain in the last eight, while Japan coach Takeshi Okada has offered to resign.